Grocery Workers Win Big Raises

In Northampton, about 100 grocery store workers who are union members saw their minimum wage go up from $12.50 to $15 an hour on January 7. “I'm excited,” Brian Pamaylaon told the Valley Post in a phone interview on January 11. He has worked at the River Valley Co-op for two years. “This means I will be able to start saving to buy a house, or so I will have money in case of an emergency.”

Olivia Vicioso has also worked at the co-op for two years. “It's great that we are getting raises,” she told the Valley Post in a phone interview on January 12. “I'm also proud that we won an extra, paid 15 minute break. If you work eight hours, now you get two 15 minute paid breaks, and a 30 minute unpaid break,” she said.

The workers have a web site at www.ufcw1459.com.

Workers who join a union in the USA make an average of 27 percent higher wages. That's according to www.bls.gov.

Non-union workers can be fired at any time for no reason. Most union contracts say that workers can only be fired for a good reason. If the boss and the worker disagree, a neutral third party decides.

Millions of workers in the USA are union members, including all the workers at UPS and Stop & Shop.

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, as of January 15 more than 300 people had RSVP'd for the Northampton Women's March. It's set to start January 19 at noon at Sheldon Fields. Details are at:

www.facebook.com/events/191636548410917

In other news from the Valley, there will be a Critical Mass ride in Brattleboro. It starts January 18 at the town common at 5:45 p.m.

Critical Mass bicycle rides started in 1992 in California and have since spread around the world. Hundreds of people ride together in a group on roads, forcing cars to go at bicycle speed. They often chant, “Critical Mass, don't use gas!”

The goal is to get politicians to deal with climate change, which the world's leading scientists say is a major threat to earth's ability to support human life.

Details about the Brattleboro ride are available from the Brattleboro chapter of www.350.org. The ride will be rescheduled if the roads have snow or ice on them.

In other news from the Valley, on January 12 in Wendell, Massachusetts more than 60 people attended a rally to stop proposed logging of a publicly-owned forest. Wendell borders Montague, which borders Greenfield. Details are at:

www.valleypost.org/node/1466

In other news from the Valley, on January 9 the state announced it would provide funding to save 12 acres of open space in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Easthampton borders Holyoke. Kestrel Land Trust helped arrange the deal. The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space every day.

Comments

Great news about minimum wage!

I'm glad to hear about the unionization of the workers of grocery store workers in Northampton. I understand that the Hampshire Gazette workers recently unionized as well. Things are looking up for working people! Keep the faith.

Minimum wage

There seem to be many arguments made against raising the minimum wage, and no doubt some have a level of legitimacy. To me, they are all entirely moot until I see alternate ways being used to close the income gap. And not just proposals, but actions.

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