Photo: Building a Bridge by Hand

These photos show a worn out, wooden covered bridge in Newfane, Vermont, and workers building a new bridge about 100 yards from the old one. When the new bridge is ready, the old one will be removed and the new one slid into its place. The bridge builders are staying at a motel in Brattleboro, they said. They are from upstate New York. (To enlarge a photo, please click on it, then scroll down and click "See full size image.")

Free 'Jobs With Justice' Conference is March 6 in Holyoke

The non-profit group Jobs With Justice will hold a conference in Holyoke on March 6 from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. with a dinner break. Admission is free for "low-income" people. The conference will be followed by a dance.

The keynote speech will be by Rob Witherell. He has worked as an organizer for the Steelworkers union www.usw.org for almost 20 years. Witherell will talk about Mondragón Cooperativa in Spain, the world's biggest network of worker-owned cooperatives.

Two Springfield Labor Rallies Set for Feb. 26

Sodexo food service workers are asking the public to attend a rally for justice on February 26 at 1 p.m. at 1295 State Street in Springfield. The workers plan to speak at the rally about "poverty wage jobs at multi-national corporation Sodexo," said Sodexo worker Noemi Nunez.

Sodexo provides food service, janitorial, and laundry services. It has about 120,000 employees in North America. Sodexo's 2009 profits were up 8 percent from the year before to more than $1 billion.

Photo: Springfield Janitors Fight for Justice

Janitors in Springfield and community supporters on February 18 visited management at the MassMutual Center to ask the company to recognize the janitors' union. Managers refused to meet with the workers, but accepted a letter. The company has not yet responded to the workers' request.

"We will continue the fight until we get justice," said Jesse Martin of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 615.

Springfield Janitors' Rally Is Feb. 18

Janitors in Springfield are asking the public to attend a rally for justice on February 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the corner of Main and Court streets in Springfield. The rally had been planned for February 16 but was postponed due to a snow storm. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 615 – the Justice for Janitors campaign – has organized a majority of the employees of Global Spectrum Corporation at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The MassMutual Center is owned by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

Springfield Grocery Workers' Protest Is Feb. 1

Thousands of grocery workers throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut -- members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Unions 1445, 328, 371, 1459, and 919 -- are bargaining with their employer, Stop & Shop, for a fair contract. Their current contract expires on February 20.

“Stop & Shop is taking an adversarial and confrontational position by placing advertisements in local newspapers, announcing that they are hiring temporary replacement workers,” said Rick Brown of UFCW Local 1459 in Springfield.

Springfield Hospital Fires Union Activists

A Springfield hospital fired two nurses last month because they supported an effort to form a union at the hospital, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). The nurses had both worked for Baystate Medical Center for many years. “We have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board,” said MNA spokesman David Schildmeier. If the NLRB rules in favor of the union, the hospital will be required to re-hire the nurses and pay them the wages they would have received if they had not been fired.

Chicopee School Bus Drivers Win Raises With Union

School bus drivers in Chicopee, Massachusetts, approved a union contract last month that will bring their wages to more than $24 an hour by the end of the five-year agreement. Chicopee is a suburb of Springfield. “Considering the current economy, this was a major victory,” said Dan Clifford, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1459, the drivers’ union.

Northampton Living Wage Vote Is Dec. 3

On December 3, the Northampton city council will vote on a living wage proposal. At its November 19 meeting, the council in a unanimous vote gave preliminary approval to the non-binding resolution. If it passes, the measure will set $11.90 an hour as the minimum wage necessary to support a full-time worker. The wage will be adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation.

150 at Rally Against Lay-Offs at Northampton Hospital

About 150 people turned out for a rally against lay-offs at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton on November 9. Hospital officials recently said they will soon lay off an unspecified number of workers, including nurses. The officials said the number of lay-offs could be around 10.

"The lay-offs are unnecessary," said Charlie Rasmussen of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the union that represents 270 nurses at the hospital. “Cooley Dickinson has an $8.9 million surplus this year.”