350 Workers Will Go on Strike Starting July 22

More than 350 workers, most of whom live in the Valley, are set to go on strike starting July 22. Stephanie Agnew is one of them. She lives in Northampton. “We want better pay and benefits,” she told the Valley Post on July 17. “We're not trying to get rich. We want a living wage. Also, our bosses are trying to get us to see more clients per week. It is already difficult to deal with the number of clients we have."

Protest Against Ben and Jerry's Is June 20

There will be a rally to protest Ben and Jerry's in Deerfield, Massachusetts on June 20 at 11:30 a.m. Deerfield is near Northampton and Greenfield. The rally will be at the Ben and Jerry's store in Deerfield.

Rally organizers say many of the workers at the farms where the milk used by Ben and Jerry's is from are paid below minimum wage. Ben and Jerry's is owned by Unilever Corporation, which also owns Dove soap, Vaseline, “I Can't Believe It's Not Butter,” and other companies. The CEO of Unilever was paid $11.4 million last year.

A Way to Cut Taxes

On June 5, a local group announced it has permanently protected from development 46 acres of open space in Hadley, Massachusetts, near Northampton. Saving open space lowers taxes and creates jobs, according to studies by the Vermont Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land.

Towns with the most protected land have the lowest property taxes. That's according to:


In Massachusetts in 2013, outdoor recreation created about 90,000 jobs for workers at hotels, restaurants and other businesses, according to:

Mental Health Workers' Rally for Justice is April 1

Andrew Berger has worked in Northampton for a government-funded agency for almost four years. His title is clinical mental health counselor. He and his 350 or so co-workers might go on strike if an upcoming rally for justice doesn't result in a fair union contract, Berger told the Valley Post on March 27. “Going on strike is a possibility,” he said. “We have been negotiating for five months and management hasn't budged. We aren't adequately paid.”

Workers Strike

On August 4, striking workers held a rally outside the Market Basket grocery store about two miles from Keene in Swanzey, New Hampshire. About 10,000 people attended a rally for the striking Market Basket workers near Boston on August 5. Market Basket has about 25,000 workers at its grocery stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Worker Safety March Is April 24

In 2005, Rob Hackley, a worker at a Pepsi factory in Florida, was burned so seriously that doctors had to perform surgery on him twice. He barely survived. The federal agency charged with workplace safety, OSHA, investigated. OSHA's report concluded that Hackley's injuries had been preventable if Pepsi had given him proper safety equipment, and that his bosses had told workers to “throw safety out the window and get the work done.” The bosses showed “deliberate, voluntary and intentional disregard to employee safety.” But OSHA gave Pepsi only a minimal fine.

Environmental Victories

People in Northampton, Brattleboro, and Keene have recently reduced pollution and saved money by investing in better insulation and air sealing for buildings, and in other energy efficiency measures. “We're saving around $400,000 a year,” Chris Mason told the Valley Post. He works for the city of Northampton, which undertook a major energy efficiency project in 2010 in schools, the public library, and other city-owned buildings. “We reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Peace Victory

In a grassroots victory, the leadership of a public high school in Northampton has agreed to allow peace activists to speak with students. The school has long allowed military recruiters to speak to students. “This was the result of public pressure. We're thrilled,” Jeff Napolitano told the Valley Post. He runs the local chapter of the American Friends Service Committee www.afsc.org.

Activist Teachers

Three famous activists will give free or low-cost public speeches, with question-and-answer sessions, in the Valley. In a profile published last month, the Los Angeles Times newspaper called Cindy Sheehan an “anti-war activist who rose to national prominence after her son was killed in the Iraq war in 2005.” She lives in California and is a war tax resistor. More information about war tax resistance is at www.nwtrcc.org.

Valley Nuke Battle Is On

On December 12 in Brattleboro, protesters occupied a nuclear corporation’s board room. Meanwhile, activists seeking to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant are gearing up for a vote next month in the Vermont senate on whether the state’s top nuclear regulator – who many say has been too friendly to the industry – will get to keep his job.

Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone’s throw from New Hampshire.