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Harvard Janitors Fight For Real Living Wage; Will Students Muster Renewed Support?
summers_rally.jpgCrashing cymbals, booming water cooler jugs and rattling shakers improvised from soda bottles and pebbles lent a boisterous sonic dimension to a rally by about 70 Harvard Janitors and a hand full of supporters outside the University's administrative offices on Massachusetts Ave. on the first Friday of October.

While super enthusiastic, the rally, which marked the first formal effort to draw public attention to the new round of contract negotiations between the janitors, represented by SEIU 615 and university last month, was also notably for the absence of a contingent whom many familiar with recent labor struggles at the university might have considered a key element.

Four years ago something between a gaggle and a gob of Harvard undergraduates were leading the charge at the university and across the country to achieve the outlandish utopian dream that folks they had far to much tact to refer to as ‘the help’ being paid a wage commensurate with the local cost of living.
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24 Oct 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor
Local Activists Raise Funds for Fair Trade
laFiesta.jpgFair Trade activists came together Monday night to raise funds for trade justice around the world in style. The model in the photo is wearing a scarf, hat and bag that were produced by workers paid fair wages in safe conditions and produced in a way that is more respectful of the environment. Photo by Christopher Brown.

Over 150 local activists celebrated trade justice in style and raised over $1,000 at the Fair Trade Fiesta at All Asia Café last Monday night. The fundraiser was hosted by the Boston Fair Trade Coalition in cooperation with Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community (UUJEC), Oxfam America, It’s Only Fair, Dean’s Beans, and other local organizations.
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19 Oct 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor
Gov. Romney Vetoes Retro Pay for Campus Unions
iporally3.jpgAs cost of living expenses, especially housing, skyrocket, Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney has leveled yet another vicious assault on union workers at the states’ 28 public colleges and universities. On October 5 Romney vetoed about $42.2 million in retroactive raises for thousands of workers, including union graduate student-workers, many of which live at or below the federal poverty level.
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11 Oct 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Labor
Retirees and union members blow the whistle on GE’s low pension and health care benefits
DSC00854.JPGLynn, MA -- General Electric retirees led a rally in front of the Riverworks plant on Sept. 29 calling attention to the company’s skimpy pension benefits that have not kept up with the rising cost of living -- especially skyrocketing health costs. The retirees were joined by current GE employees, Local 201 and other union leaders, and several community supporters. At the rally, retirees used a cell phone to call GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt at the company’s corporate headquarters in Fairfield, CT. Unable to reach him, they sent a message by blowing whistles and playing a new protest song, “The Plight of the GE Pensioneer.”
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04 Oct 2005 | Filed under: News / Globalization : Human Rights : Labor : Social Welfare
Community-labor coalition kicks off campaign for more power in elections
Over two-dozen local community and labor organizations have kicked off a grassroots effort to reinvigorate democracy in the Bay State by giving citizens more choices and a stronger voice at the polls. Rallying behind the slogan, “Vote Your Values,” the groups are conducting an initiative drive to repeal the state’s ban on cross-endorsement voting.

Cross endorsement gives voters an opportunity to express support for the platform or values of a minor or third party without "spoiling" or wasting their vote on a candidate who has no chance of winning. Allowing candidates to run for office with the support of more than one political party gives voters more ability to hold elected officials accountable. Politicians can count the votes they receive on the minor party’s ballot line and recognize the significance of that party’s issues or platform in their election’s outcome.
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27 Sep 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Organizing : Politics
Four Years Later, Janitors Still Make Noise at Harvard
sitin032.jpgFour years after the huge living wage campaign at Harvard University, janitors are still demanding better jobs. They face a contract re-negotiation in November, and they demand higher pay, more sick days, and equal treatment with outsourced workers, among other things.
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18 Sep 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Race
Local unions still working together
rsaenz.jpgWhile Boston labor activists hobnobbed with politicians and civic leaders during the annual Labor Day Breakfast, a contingent from Service Employees International Union Local 615 headed to Providence to join a massive demonstration aimed at organizing janitors.

SEIU President Rocio Saenz fired up a crowd of about 300 labor activists before leading them on a march through downtown Providence and blocking a busy intersection.

Saenz was led away by police officers, but not before she fired up downtown Providence with union slogans and fiery oratory.

“It’s so important that we have an organizing agenda,” Saenz said, explaining SEIU’s drive to unionize janitors. “The unions need to have a stronger voice.”

It was SEUI’s insistence on organizing and expanding membership that ultimately pulled the union away from the AFL-CIO this summer. Along with SEIU, the Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers also broke from the nation’s largest federation of unions.
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09 Sep 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor
Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
quote.jpgBOSTON – New census data released Tuesday is galvanizing support for a public forum on Sept. 1 where several Members of Congress will hear from a diverse group of seniors, workers, caregivers, immigrants, women, people of color, the uninsured, and local elected officials in support of a "Medicare for All" solution to the health care crisis.

The growing severity of the health care crisis has brought together over 40 grassroots organizations in Massachusetts for an impressive -- and unusual -- showing of political unity.

* For coverage of the hearing itself see:
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/41078/index.php
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31 Aug 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Politics : Social Welfare
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