Photo: Strike in Greenfield

Sixty-three workers are on strike in Greenfield. They are asking the public to join them on the picket line outside 34 Sanderson Street, 24 hours a day from now until August 14 at 11 p.m. There will be a mass rally at that location at 2 p.m. on August 12.

The below photo was taken on August 12. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." photo by Eesha Williams

Jason McGrath started working at the Greenfield Kennametal factory 20 years ago. He still works there. He was laid off three times, each time for several years. “The company is demanding that we work mandatory overtime,” McGrath told the Valley Post. “That's just one of many reasons we're on strike.” The workers have a web site at www.ueUnion.org.

The workers make taps -– not the kind used to turn water on and off, but the kind used to make a threaded hole in metal, or in other material. The factory is owned by Pennsylvania-based Kennametal Corporation, whose CEO makes more than $1 million a year.

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 (600 of the 900 Retreat workers are union members), 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.

Shawn Coates has worked at the Greenfield factory for 30 years. “What the company is trying to impose is going to hurt people,” he told the Valley Post.

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