Workers Unite

An uprising among the 500 or so workers at Springfield Technical Community College appears to have near unanimous support. The goal is to get rid of the college's leadership. “They wouldn't let us use electronic voting – you could only vote in person. We would have had higher turnout with electronic voting. As it was, 238 people voted. Of those, 202 voted in favor of removing the college's president. We are also seeking the removal of the chair of the college's board of trustees,” Nick Camerota told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on May 15. He works at the college and is an uprising leader.

The workers are asking the public to join them at a rally on May 21 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at 1 Armory Square in Springfield. “This is about union busting,” said a spokesman for the local chapter of Jobs With Justice, which is promoting the rally. Details are available via www.jwj.org.

On average, workers in the USA make 27 percent higher wages when they join a union. That's according to www.bls.gov.

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

Millions of workers in the USA are union members, including all the workers at UPS, UMass Amherst, the Brattleboro Retreat (900 or so workers), and the food co-ops in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro. The Brattleboro co-op has about 160 employees.

The middle class in the USA is disappearing. There are more rich people and more poor people than there have been since the 1920s. This allows billionaires more influence over politicians. Unions are one way to expand the middle class and increase democracy.

In other news from the Valley, on May 11 a group of activists in Amherst announced they had permanently protected 31 acres of farmland in Hadley, Massachusetts. Hadley borders Northampton and Amherst. The activists have a web site at www.KestrelTrust.org.

The USA is losing about 6,000 acres of open space every day. That's according to www.tpl.org/ourland.

The below map shows the open space that has been protected in the Connecticut River watershed in Massachusetts, southeast Vermont and southwest New Hampshire. The map was current as of 2015. Click on the map to enlarge it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." Then click on the map again to enlarge it more. You can move the image using the arrows on your keyboard. Pisgah (New Hampshire) state park can be seen on the map. Is is the biggest protected area that is both east of Brattleboro and southwest of Keene. It is about 13,300 acres.

In other news from the Valley, on May 12 in Westhampton, Massachusetts, the majority of people at the annual town meeting voted to support bills S.1305 and H.3269, now in the state legislature, to ban the use of government money for immigration enforcement. Westhampton borders Northampton. Catherine Hondorp live in Westhampton and spoke in favor of immigrant rights at the meeting. On May 13, in a telephone interview with the Valley Post, Hondorp said, “Immigrants who are poor often can't afford lawyers who could help them get legal status.”

In other news from the Valley, on May 15 in downtown Northampton, despite heavy rain, dozens of people attended an outdoor rally calling on president Trump and congress to stop giving taxpayer money from the USA to Israel. The government of the USA gives Israel about $4 billion a year. A billion is a thousand million. Much of that money is used to oppress people in Palestine. Most Israelis are white; most Palestinians are brown. The Northampton rally was organized by the local chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace. Noam Chomsky is a supporter, according to the group's web site. Howard Zinn was a longtime supporter until he died.

In other news from the Valley, on May 14, members of a Springfield union, UFCW Local 1459, traveled to Boston for a rally for the Poor People's Campaign. A photo is at:

www.facebook.com/UFCWLocal1459/photos/a.390290351019110.80381.3895403277...

On the same day, the Poor People's Campaign organized non-violent civil disobedience in Washington, DC. Hundreds of people were arrested. Among the campaign's goals are universal healthcare, 100 percent renewable energy, taxing the rich, and cutting the military budget. Details are at www.PoorPeoplesCampaign.org.

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