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NSTAR Workers (Still) On Strike!!!
DSC00529.jpgCompany decries union ‘scare tactics,’ Solidarity strong among electrical workers despite heavy handed union busting efforts

The first week of Utility Workers Union of America local 369’s strike against NSTAR has been fraught with drama, mainly stemming from the deregulated Eastern Massachusetts electrical service provider’s blatant and ominous strong arm tactics. Since Monday, May 18 at 12:01 when their contract expired and 1,900 of NSTAR's 3,000 workers represented by the union walked off the job, NSTAR has consistently maintained that Union officials are lying about the reasons the union went on strike. And the same day the strike began Local 369 was informed that the workers’ health insurance had been cancelled.

UPDATE, 6/1/05: 87% of the 1,900 striking NStar Utility Workers Local 369 members last night voted to ratify a new contract. The contract came after a hard fought fifteen day strike that saw an outpouring of solidarity from labor and community supporters.
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23 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Organizing
Graduate student-workers at UMass-Amherst win tentative contract agreement
018_08A.JPGAfter 14 months of battle, the Graduate Employee Organization, UAW Local 2322 reached a tentative contract agreement with the administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst May 10. A ratification vote is scheduled for May 19-20.

A heartening and powerful labor-community-student alliance won this stage of the struggle.

“The incredible turn out at the March 31 rally and march, the complete shutdown of the university on April 21 because of the undergraduate boycott and GEO walkout, the teach-ins, grade-ins, carol singing and bombarding of Chancellor Lombardi, and many other contract campaign events have all paid off, and allowed us to reach a tentative agreement with the university today over the terms of a new contract,” declared GEO in an email to its approximately 2, 400 members May 10.
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15 May 2005 Modified: 16 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Education : Labor
Living in the Shadows: Undocumented Children Strive to Succeed
P905daughter.jpgAs an immigrant, Araceli has a hard time feeling like she belongs. She fled social unrest in Guatemala with her family when she was only five years old, speaks English better than Spanish, but has been forced to live in the fringes of society because she is considered illegal. “I’ve been here for sixteen years. I consider myself an American,” she said.

The first time she found out about her status was when she tried to apply for college and was told the benefit of a higher education did not apply to her. One year after graduating from high school with a 3.5 GPA and unable to work legally in this country, she feels uneasy about her future. “Put your self in my shoes. I want an education and a career,” she said.
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09 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Education : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor
Solidarity shines through on a rainy May Day, Part 2
brocktonkids.jpgSunday, May 1st BOSTON- Felix Arroyo, Maria Elena Letona of Centro Presente, and many others spoke in front of a damp but festive crowd of more than 500 representing immigrant communities from all over Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts this Sunday in Copley Square. For this one day a year and, as one young speaker expressed, hopefully for the other 364, widely disparate immigrant communities joined together to address and rally around the issues that affect them all.

Counter protestors did show up, but were largely ignored at their spot far to one side of the rally, save for the corporate press who can’t resist portraying every political story as a perfectly evenly balanced battle of wits. Sorry, not this time.

What I saw was a building of community. People who, usually divided by neighborhood, disparate needs, cultures, or languages, came together to address some issues common to all.
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03 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Race : Social Welfare
Solidarity shines through on a rainy May Day, Part 1
mayday1-1.jpgSUNDAY, May 1st- A rainy May Day kept many marchers away but a small and jubilant crowd of celebrants gathered for a march called by BAAM in downtown Boston. (http://baamboston.org/)

To the peal of a bugle call, marchers waving Anarcho-syndicalist Black and Red flags, beating on plastic drums, and chanting took to the streets. The crowd left the Boston Common, wound around the public garden, and enthusiastically sounded out chants down Newbury.

Along the way standers-by were handed informative, well written flyers about the history of May Day and the Haymarket Martyrs. One group of men, looking haggard and dusty from a morning’s work, read the flyers intently while waiting for a bus. They each admitted it was the first time they had ever heard of the international labor day.
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02 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Organizing
Anti-Vivisection Activists Had A Busy Month
P4150039withbanner.jpgOn Saturday, April 16 and Saturday, April 30 members of animal rights groups such as The Animal Defense League of Boston (ADL), The Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition (MARC) and Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN) marched, rallied, chanted and otherwise expressed their disdain for the animal experimentation that happens with help from their tax dollars in their own home state.

viv·i·sec·tion - n. -The act or practice of cutting into or otherwise injuring living animals, especially for the purpose of scientific research. [from dictionary.com]

Harvard Medical School's "New England Regional Primate Research Center" or NERPRC was the focus of these protests although many universities and private companies in Massachusetts experiment on animals, including M.I.T., Tufts University, and Charles River Laboratories.
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02 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare
May Day and the Haymarket martyrs
3martyrs_photos.gifMay Day - the real labor day

"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voice you are throttling today."
- August Spies from the gallows.

May 1st, International Workers' Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in every country except the United States and Canada. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour work day.

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.
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30 Apr 2005 | Filed under: News / International : Labor : Organizing : Race : Social Welfare
Immigrant Rights Rally Fast Becoming May Day Tradition in Boston
May-Day.jpgAccording to the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Coalition, international immigration to the Commonwealth is responsible for both the population growth and the net labor force growth experienced here in the 1990s. An ever growing coalition of immigrant, labor, religious and community organizations that organizes the perennial ‘MayDay Rally for Immigrants Rights’ has had their finger on the pulse of the demographic shift in the state.

Since the mid-nineties Bostonians have intermittently celebrated May 1st, which since the late 1800s has been an international workers holiday, with an immigrants rights rally. In 2001 the annual rally received a boost thanks in part to a call out from the AFL-CIO for labor to highlight the connection between labor and immigrant rights. Since then the annual rally has just about become a staple of spring in our fair city. It is rumored that Mayor Menino might even make an appearance this year.

Regarding the mayor, Jason Pramas of Massachusetts Global Action, one of the key groups organizing the event, said that while he doesn’t necessarily agree with his politics, ”It is extremely important for a mayor of a major urban center, especially one who has not been as strong on immigrants rights as he could be, to stand up and commit himself to meeting the needs of immigrant populations in Boston.”
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28 Apr 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Organizing : Politics : Race
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