Greenfield Rally is April 24 at 2:15 p.m.

There will be a car rally in Greenfield on April 24 at 2:15 p.m. The main goal is to get politicians to listen to workers who are calling for face masks and other safety gear. The car rally will be a caravan that will stop outside the hospital, a supermarket, and a factory. It starts at 101 Sanderson Street. Organizers are asking people to bring signs saying things like, “Masks for staff and customers.” More information is at:

www.facebook.com/events/229666348455907

Thirty-two people had RSVP'd as of 9 a.m. The event is being organized by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, which is affiliated with unions in the Valley. On average, workers in the USA make 27 percent higher wages when they join a union. That's according to www.bls.gov.

At least 75 people attended a similar rally in Northampton on April 17. It was organized by the same group.

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Unions in the Valley will commemorate Workers' Memorial Day on April 28. As of 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, 275 workers died every day in the USA from hazardous working conditions. Between 1970 and 2017, there were 410,000 “traumatic worker deaths” but OSHA only prosecuted employers for 99 of those deaths.

In 2017, the median OSHA fine on employers for a worker death was $7,761. The most common cause of workplace death is falling (13 feet on average) but in the Valley roofers and house painters rarely use safety harnesses. This violates federal law that OSHA is supposed to enforce. There is one OSHA inspector for every 79,000 workers.

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UPS drivers in the Valley – and nationally – are members of the 1.4 million member Teamsters union. In February, James Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, announced he will retire when his current term ends in March 2022. Hoffa is supporting a candidate to take his place. The group Teamsters for a Democratic Union will support a different candidate. Unlike the president of the USA, who is chosen by the electoral college, the president of the Teamsters is elected by popular vote.

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About 130 tutors at Keene public schools are union members and are asking the public to help them keep their jobs during the pandemic. Details are at:

www.facebook.com/623677947/posts/10158432462702948

Kathy Twombly is president of the Keene tutors' union. It's part of a union that has a web site at www.nea.org.

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The New York city council is considering banning cars and trucks – except for emergency vehicles -- from 75 miles of streets. Sidewalks are too narrow for six foot social distancing. Activists who are supporting the move have a web site at https://openstreets.nyc

Abby Mnookin lives in Brattleboro and works for the group 350 Vermont. On April 24 she told the Valley Post that Brattleboro should ban cars on some downtown streets.

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The following local newspapers are owned by out-of-state corporations: Hampshire Gazette, Amherst Bulletin, Brattleboro Reformer, Springfield Republican, Greenfield Recorder, and Valley Advocate. The corporations that own these newspapers are run undemocratically. Other news organizations are run democratically. A group in Northampton that works nationally to improve local journalism had a major victory last year when officials with the state of New Jersey announced the state will invest $2 million in local journalism.

The Northampton group is Free Press. Two of the founders of Free Press, Robert McChesney and John Nichols, wrote a cover story for The Nation magazine proposing a way to increase government funding for journalism while preventing government control of journalism. Everyone who lives in the USA would get a $300 annual voucher to donate to the news outlets of their choice. This would bring the USA closer to Europe's per capita amount spent by the government on journalism.

Free Press has a web site at www.FreePress.net. Craig Aaron runs Free Press. On April 20, 2020 he told the Valley Post that, “We are pushing Congress to make journalists part of the coronavirus recovery legislation. I wrote at length at

www.cjr.org/analysis/journalism-stimulus.php

about what that should look like.

Our priorities include:

--Direct emergency funds targeted at newsroom jobs to keep reporters on the beat during this crisis;

--Doubling federal support for public, community and nonprofit media;

--Seeding a 'First Amendment Fund' that could support community-centered news.”

Aaron continued, “That article has sparked a fair bit of attention in places like the Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer. We've gotten more than 45 groups to endorse some of the ideas in a sign-on letter to Congress, and thousands of activists have signed our petition.... There's real interest on Capitol Hill in doing something now. Twenty senators have signed a letter calling for journalists to be included in recovery efforts, and we've been meeting regularly with senior Senate and House staff about crafting legislation for if/when legislators return in May. The target would be not the bill they are likely to pass this week but the next one. At the state level, no states have yet followed New Jersey's lead, but there has been strong interest in places like Colorado and Ohio.”

Pacifica Radio owns five FM stations, each with powerful transmitters, in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Houston, and the San Francisco area. The network airs local news programs and the popular daily national and world news program “Democracy Now!” Anyone who donates $35 or volunteers four hours a year, can vote for delegates who in turn elect Pacifica’s board of directors. Pacifica rejects advertising and the kind of corporate "underwriting messages" that NPR relies on. NPR is run undemocratically.

A story from California shows why local, non-corporate journalism is important.

No nation keeps such a high percentage of its people in prison as the USA. Europe's rate in a third of the USA's. In December 2014, in Oakland, California, anti-prison activists held a rally outside a meeting of the county legislature. They were asking the Alameda county board of supervisors to invest $17 million a year in programs to keep people out of prison by creating jobs for people just getting out of prison. The board rejected the activists’ request. The activists kept returning to the board’s meetings and speaking out during the public comment period. But the board kept rejecting their request. On March 4, 2015, the activists returned to a county board meeting. This time they were ready to get arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. They interrupted the meeting by singing songs from the civil rights movement. The board quickly ended the meeting. Soon, the activists won. They got the $17 million.

There are two main newspapers in Oakland, the Oakland Tribune and the East Bay Express. The Tribune is owned by a corporation in Colorado that owns dozens of other newspapers around the nation. The East Bay Express is owned by a group of local people in Oakland.

There are several radio and TV stations that cover Oakland news. One of them is KPFA, a non-profit radio station whose board of directors is elected by anyone who donates $35 a year or volunteers four hours a year. KPFA rejects the corporate money that NPR stations rely on.

Darris Young was the main organizer of the protests at the Alameda county board of supervisors meeting. He was a prisoner in California in 2008. While he was in prison, he organized a strike by the prisoners. They refused to do their jobs until they got more recreation time. They won. Now he is out of prison. He works for the Ella Baker Center in Oakland as a community organizer. The Valley Post spoke with him in 2015.

Young said the East Bay Express provided coverage that helped turn out people for the protest in March. He said the Tribune did not. KPFA has covered his group’s work better than the commercial radio and TV stations.

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