On January 27, there was a rally for immigrant rights outside Springfield city hall. “It was wonderful. Five hundred people came, according to the police,” Rose Bookbinder told the Valley Post. She works for the group that organized the rally. The group's web site is www.pvWorkersCenter.org.
Billionaires have been getting richer in recent years, as the middle class has gotten smaller, and the ranks of the poor have swelled. But workers in Greenfield are reversing that trend. “We won a good union contract,” John Cevasco told the Valley Post on December 10. He has worked at a grocery store, Green Fields Market, for more than 16 years. About 75 workers at the store, and at a smaller subsidiary in nearby Shelburne Falls, formed a union in 2012.
A rally calling on President Obama to release from prison Oscar López Rivera will be in Springfield on September 16 at 4:45 p.m. The rally will be outside city hall, at 36 Court Street.
United States senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said earlier this year, “Oscar López Rivera has served 34 years in prison for his commitment to Puerto Rico’s independence. I say to President Obama: let him out.” Rivera is 73 years old.
With Labor Day right around the corner, the Valley Post spoke with a worker at a Springfield-based union for an update. Grocery workers are negotiating their first union contract at Wild Oats Market in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Matt Szulborski told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on August 12. He works for United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 1459. In February, the 42 workers at Wild Oats joined the union, which has a web site at www.ufcw1459.com.
In the Valley, activists are working to elect women to positions of power. On August 9, the Vermont primary election will decide if a woman, Sue Minter, will be on the November ballot for governor. She now leads in the polls. Massachusetts has never elected a female governor. Since George Washington took office in 1789, the USA has never had a woman president.
Money is power. The 10 richest people in the world are all white men. Women earn 79 percent as much as men in the USA.
Activists in the Valley are inviting the public to join them on free buses to a rally for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The February 6 rally will be in Manchester, New Hampshire outside a Republican presidential debate. The buses will leave from Chicopee (near Springfield) at 2:15 p.m., Northampton at 3 p.m., and Amherst at 3:30 p.m. People will be traveling from all over New England for the rally. Manchester is about an hour from Keene by car.
Activists are fighting for equality. In Keene, workers organized a union. In Northampton, workers are forming a union, and a grassroots group that last year made the Massachusetts minimum wage the nation's highest is now working to raise taxes on the rich.
On July 18, near Keene, there will be a march for campaign finance reform. The march starts at 9:30 a.m. Members of Congress take millions of dollars from rich people to pay for TV commercials for the politicians' election campaigns. Most of these rich “donors” want something in return. If they have employees they often want to prevent increases in the minimum wage (the richest family in the world, the Waltons, own Wal-Mart).
In Vernon, Vermont, a nuclear waste dump sits three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire. An accident at the facility could kill thousands of people and leave an area the size of New England permanently uninhabitable. The dump is owned and operated by the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation.
Vermont Yankee will lay off hundreds of high wage workers in the coming months. But reducing the workweek from 40 to 32 hours and subsidizing local apparel and shoe factories would create more jobs than the nuclear reactor ever did. Vermont Yankee is near Brattleboro, Greenfield, and Keene.