Holyoke Workers Unite

Workers at a high school in Holyoke are organizing a union. “We have more than a dozen members out of about 35 workers,” Sofia Lemons told the Valley Post on May 14. She is a math teacher at the school. “More workers are signing up every day.” The union includes teachers and cafeteria and office workers at the school.

Shaitia Spruell works as a teaching assistant at the school. “We need a union to protect us,” she told the Valley Post on May 14. “I am proud to be part of the union.”

Most union contracts say workers can only be fired for "just cause." Non-union workers can be fired at any time for no reason.

The workers joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union. The public is invited to attend meetings on May 16 and May 23 about the “union and how a worker-student-parent alliance might achieve social justice and quality education,” Lemons said.

The meetings will be at the Holyoke Public Library community meeting room from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the union's web site http://pfsj-iww.blogspot.com or contact Lemons by phone at (603) 866-6860 or e-mail her at pfsj.iww@gmail.com.

The school has a web site at www.PauloFreireCharterSchool.org.

On average, workers in the USA make about 25 percent higher wages when they join a union. That's according to www.bls.gov. Millions of workers in the USA are union members, including all the workers at UPS, Stop & Shop, and the food co-ops in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro.

Kelly Lamberto is a French teacher at the Holyoke school. “Our union is about solidarity,” she said.

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