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Massachusetts

The Threat Of Democracy On Campus At The University Of Massachusetts

Before arriving at UMass Amherst last fall, Chancellor Javier Reyes was already notorious for his cavalier approach to critics. But few foresaw what he did on May 7. Earlier that day, organizers from a coalition of campus solidarity groups had erected tents on a small section of the lawn by W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Like virtually all the recent encampments in this country, there was no hint of violence from the campers. It was the latest tactic in a seven-month campaign to end UMass’s complicity with the US-Israeli war on Gaza. The organizers had four demands: that UMass disclose its financial ties to weapons makers and corporations with links to Israel, that it divest from those corporations, that it end study abroad programs in Israel, and that it drop all charges and sanctions against the students arrested in a peaceful building occupation last October.

Over 130 Arrested At Gaza Solidarity Demonstration

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, protesters set up an encampment on the Student Union South Lawn. Protesters were advocating for the University of Massachusetts to divest from war-profiteering companies involved in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and to drop the charges of the students arrested at the Whitmore demonstration in October. As the day progressed, dozens of police officers, many in riot gear, arrived on the scene and arrested over 130 undergraduates, graduate students, professors and community members. The protest was led by the UMass chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Teaching Each Other To Strike

Recently I heard members of the Newton Teachers Association recount the path to their 11-day January strike. The audience at the Massachusetts Teachers Association winter skills conference gave them a standing ovation. In the past 20 months, seven MTA locals have voted to strike and six have walked out. They’ve won significant raises for the lowest-paid workers, paid family and medical leave, more social workers, and educator control over planning time. All the strikes were illegal, and the courts issued fines in most cases. Newton teachers were fined $625,000, for example.

Casualties Of A Failed Health Care System

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend found herself in the emergency room at one of our world-class hospitals, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. After emergency surgery, the medical team decided to admit her for at least another day to monitor her recovery. What she encountered next was something out of a makeshift battlefield hospital, as rendered by Hieronymus Bosch. There were no beds available in the patient rooms, so “admitted” patients were being stashed in beds laid end to end in the emergency area. A bit of delay getting a bed is not unusual. But in this case, there were seriously ill admitted patients in 73 beds crammed into the emergency area.

Massachusetts Wakes Up To A Hospital Nightmare

The group of fresh medical school grads knew something wasn’t right with Steward Health Care when they showed up in Dorchester, Massachusetts to start their residencies in Carney Hospital’s inaugural family medicine residency class during the summer of 2014 and learned the president who had recruited them had already been fired. Soon afterward, a Steward administrator admitted the new family medicine clinic and the pediatric ward they had toured on their recruitment visit were never actually opening, and that the nearby hospital at which residents were supposed to learn how to deliver babies was being shuttered entirely.

Massachusetts Illegal Teacher Strike Wave Rolls On

A wildly successful, illegal three-day strike by the Andover Education Association in November has reverberated statewide for educators in Massachusetts. The lowest-paid instructional assistants got a 60 percent wage jump immediately. Classroom aides on the higher end of the scale got a 37 percent increase. Members won paid family medical leave, an extra personal day, fewer staff meetings, and the extension of lunch and recess times for elementary students. Andover is 20 miles north of Boston, and the strike involved 10 schools. For 10 months and 27 bargaining sessions, the Andover School Committee had insisted that none of these demands was possible.

Inside The Youth-Led Fight For A Demilitarized Future

In January 2020, Dissenters — a grassroots, youth-led antiwar movement — began with the mission to connect violence against Black and brown communities in the U.S. to the systems of oppression that fund, arm and enable global militarism. While born from the legacy of the U.S. antiwar movement, Dissenters takes an intersectional approach that connects global wars with corporate elites, local police, border walls, surveillance and prisons. Operating across the country through campus chapters, training fellowships and a strong social media presence, Dissenters has been organizing for college divestment from weapons manufacturers, ending campus recruitment from military-affiliated companies and disbanding campus police departments.

Massachusetts: Blockade Of L3Harris Protests Military Industrial Complex

Northampton, MA - On the morning of Thursday, October 12, members and supporters of the Demilitarize Western Mass collective created a blockade at 50 Prince Street, Northampton, in front of L3Harris (the local subsidiary of weapons giant.) L3Harris is the ninth largest weapons manufacturer in the world, and this direct action is in protest of this part of the military industrial complex in the region, particularly their role in violence abroad and carceral surveillance systems. The blockade consists of protesters locking themselves to a large boat and three trailers, preventing cars from entering either of the driveways to L3Harris.

Boston Demands Indigenous Peoples Day!

On Oct. 7, over 200 Indigenous activists and their allies gathered on Boston Common to demand that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts abolish Columbus Day and immediately designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. This action continued the Indigenous-led movement to end the racist cult glorifying Christopher Columbus, a Genoese mercenary backed by Spanish monarchs and mercantile investors. He commanded the 1492 voyage to the Caribbean that initiated the transatlantic slave trade and began the ongoing settler-colonial genocide of Indigenous peoples.

Massachusetts To Launch Push To Fill Vacant State-Funded Apartments

Massachusetts housing officials announced Friday that they are launching a “90-day push” to reduce the number of vacancies in state public housing by the end of the year. The initiative comes after an investigation by WBUR and ProPublica found nearly 2,300 of 41,500 state-funded apartments were vacant at the end of July — most for months or years — despite a housing shortage so severe that Gov. Maura Healey called it a state of emergency. Massachusetts is one of only four states with state-subsidized public housing, and about 184,000 people are on a waitlist for the units.

Massachusetts Has A Huge Waitlist For State-Funded Housing

In a state with some of the country’s most expensive real estate, Libby is among the 184,000 people — including thousands who are homeless, at risk of losing their homes or living in unsafe conditions — on a waitlist for the state’s 41,500 subsidized apartments. As they wait, a WBUR and ProPublica investigation found that nobody is living in nearly 2,300 state-funded apartments, with most sitting empty for months or years. The state pays local housing authorities to maintain and operate the units whether they’re occupied or not. So the vacant apartments translate into millions of Massachusetts taxpayer dollars wasted due to delays and disorder fostered by state and local mismanagement.

Disability Justice And Neurodivergent Community Rally To ‘Stop The Shock’

Stop the Shock – a coalition of more than 30 organizations in the Disability Justice and Neurodivergent community – organized a rally and press briefing at the Boston Common on Sept 9. The rally succeeded in garnering greater publicity and support for passing House H180 in the Massachusetts state legislature to outlaw the use of aversion therapy. Aversion therapy includes skin shocks, pinching, ammonia face spraying, contingent food programs (using food deprivation as punishment), long-term restraints, sensory deprivation and white noise helmets used primarily against children with disabilities. All of these methods are used at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts.

How A Strip Mall Became The Center Of The Modern-Day Labor Movement

Hadley, Massachusetts - Picture a sprawling suburban strip mall, and Route 9 in this Western Massachusetts town may come to mind. The busy commercial corridor is dotted with curb strips and parking lots, with neatly painted lines and weeds pushing through cracks in the asphalt. National brands fill the low-lying storefronts one after another: Home Depot, Whole Foods, Marshalls, ULTA. But a half-mile stretch of the roadway between Amherst and Northampton is unusual for one reason: It has become a hotbed for labor activism. Starting last year, workers at three big-box stores — Trader Joe’s, Barnes & Noble, and Michaels — formed unions in and around the Mountain Farms mall.

California Amazon Strikers, Allies Blockade Massachusetts Warehouse

Norwood, Massachusetts - With military-like tactics and discipline, over 300 Teamsters and their supporters converged in the predawn darkness on a sprawling Amazon warehouse (DCB4) and truck barn in the Boston suburb of Norwood on July 8. At exactly 4 a.m., contingents of workers moved out of the shadows of wooded side streets and, with bullhorns blaring, blocked off multiple gates with moving pickets. Picketing was led by two striking Amazon delivery drivers — Cecilia Porter and Brandi Diaz — who had flown in from Palmdale, California.

Debunking The Five Major Myths About Wealth Flight

Recently, multiple news articles, op-eds, and think tank reports have asserted that Massachusetts is suffering an exodus of households, particularly high-income households, fleeing to states with lower taxes. A closely related claim is that outmigrants are taking billions of dollars out of the Massachusetts economy when they leave. These claims about income migration are both overblown and based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the available data. The scary portrayals of population flight are typically connected to calls for tax cuts that overwhelmingly would benefit the wealthiest households.
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