We Stand Together Newsletter

Events

  • June 18- June 19: As hospitals around Western Mass announced plans to close mental health wings and the ICUs in Palmer and Westfield, nurses are organizing to save community services. There will be two Department of Public Health hearings that are an opportunity for the community to speak out about the need for local health services and what a closure would mean for them. The Mass Nurses Association is calling for public and union support for three upcoming events. To find out more information, contact Diane Scherrer at [email protected].

    • June 18, 4 p.m. in the Snow Conference Room at Baystate Wing Hospital at 40 Wright St. in Palmer, MA. Please attend the hearing if you are able, or consider submitting written testimony. 

    • June 19, 4 p.m. at Westfield Middle School, 30 West Silver St. in Westfield, MA. Please attend the hearing if you are able, or consider submitting written testimony.

    • June 19, 7 p.m. A Greenfield Town Council meeting in which councilors will consider a resolution to urge Baystate Health to preserve the inpatient mental health beds at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. The meeting will be held at the John Zon Community Center at 35 Pleasant St. in Greenfield, MA.

  • June 19: Pioneer Valley Assembly Meeting: 5:30 p.m. at 640 Page Blvd. in Springfield, MA. Contact: Assembly President, Fiore Grassetti, [email protected].

  • June 20: Massachusetts Jobs with Justice Regional Council Meeting. Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, 1380 Main St., Suite 203, Springfield, MA  01103 (2nd floor, end of the hall). Join Mass JwJ to celebrate their new office and hear updates of their current organizing campaigns. We’ll have a bite to eat at 5:30 p.m. and then a brief and informal meeting at 6:00 to talk about all that Jobs with Justice is up to. Contact: Alicia Flemings, [email protected].

  • June 25: Hampshire Franklin Assembly Meeting,  5:30 p.m., Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Northampton, MA. Contact: Assembly President, Patrick Burke, [email protected].

  • June 29: Berkshire Assembly Meeting, Saturday,  9:00 a.m., Elks Club, 27 Union St., Pittsfield, MA. Contact: Assembly President, Brian Morrisson, [email protected]

  • Northampton Association of School Employees Summertime Standouts. Every Thursday, 5:00-6:00 p.m., Northampton City Hall. Stand in solidarity with NASE every Thursday as they continue to fight for a fair wage increase in their next contract. 

  • September 10: Save the date for the Mass Nurses Association March for Mental Health. Starting in Greenfield, MA, at 7 a.m., community members will walk to the proposed site of the new "for profit" mental health facility that will replace the Mental Health Unit at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. The march will show just how far a person in Greenfield will have to travel to be treated for mental health care. 

News and Updates

Congratulations to AFSCME 1776. Since this fall, AFSCME 1776 has converted 260 seasonal employees to full-time benefited positions! This reclassification means better wages, more job security, and good benefits for hundreds of UMass Amherst workers. 

Springfield’s Skyview Downtown apartment complex is undergoing a $50 million renovation, a project guaranteed to create a lot of jobs. Some of this work is so far being completed by out-of-state workers. Building-trades unions from across the region are fighting to keep these jobs local. Read more about their campaign for local jobs for local workers here.

1199SEIU is in the middle of bargaining a new contract for the 48,000 Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) providing in-home care to people across Massachusetts. Negotiations are progressing well, and they are fighting for paid vacation and better working conditions that reflect the quality of care PCAs provide day in and day out. 1199SEIU also hosted a statewide Advocacy Day. Hundreds of workers took to the Massachusetts statehouse to speak to legislators across the state about their priorities.

Baystate Medical is proposing the closure of inpatient mental health facilities in community hospitals in Greenfield, Palmer, and Westfield as they partner with for-profit company US Health-Vest to open a mental health facility in Holyoke. This closure will eliminate important local services that people rely on and will force many to leave their community and their social and familial support systems to receive services elsewhere. Find out more about how these closures will affect local care. You can also show your support by signing this petition to keep local mental health facilities open. 

Westfield Restaurants chain was ordered to pay $144,802 in penalties, restitutions, and backpay to 147 workers, for violating Massachusetts wage and hour laws, announced Attorney General Maura Healy. Delivery drivers were underpaid by up to $8,700 for mileage expenses. Wage theft continues to be a rampant problem across Massachusetts with an estimated $700 million in unpaid wages being stolen from Massachusetts workers every year. Unions and workers are fighting back by working to pass statewide and municipal legislation that cracks down on wage theft. 

After months of negotiations, the Northampton Association of School Employees (NASE) continues to fight for a contract that includes a fair-wage increase for Northampton’s hardworking teachers and staff who are among the lowest-paid in the state. Despite months of negotiations, standouts, and recent mediation, the Northampton School Committee continues to refuse to budge. Find out on their Facebook page how you can support the teachers as they continue their fight over the summer. 

 

(NASE members and community supporters organized daily standouts in the lead up to the end of school)

This month, the Pioneer Valley Workers Center is embarking on a new project to develop a worker-owned cooperative farm run by seven Pioneer Valley Workers Center members. The farm will be built of 4 acres of leased land in Hatfield. Their farm is part of a long-term vision for creating worker-run institutions. It will expand access to healthy food for farm workers, “many of whom help grow and harvest the region’s produce but then can’t afford to buy it in grocery stores.” Learn more on their website: http://pvworkerscenter.org.

In a big win for Massachusetts workers, the Massachusetts House voted overwhelmingly earlier this month to pass a bill expanding union rights in public workplaces. The bill is a response to last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME aimed at bankrupting public-sector unions and further enriching the billionaire class. Under the new bill, unions will have expanded tools to communicate with employees and charge reasonable fees for the costs of legal representation for non-members. 

If you have a victory or an event you’d like to see in WE Stand Together (WEST), send it to [email protected] by the last Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m. to appear in that month’s newsletter.