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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Universities on Turtle Island, as la paperson writes, “are land-grabbing, land-transmogrifying, land-capitalizing machines.” Indigenous land theft, and profits from slavery, enabled these universities to be built in the first place – and they still collect profits from stolen lands. With this accumulated capital, major US universities have become colonial real estate agents. Harvard University, notably, owns land all over the world – from vineyards in Washington state to farmlands in Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, and Romania. Harvard’s land-grabbing machine has harmed Indigenous communities, poisoning their water and crops in Brazil, and denying access to burial sites and pasture land in South Africa.
Marlborough, Massachusetts – Following a three-day strike, bus workers at North Reading Transportation (NRT) have overwhelmingly voted to ratify their first Teamster contract. These bus workers are represented by Teamsters Local 170 and provide student transportation for Marlborough Public Schools. The agreement covers 65 workers and includes wage increases, Teamsters 401(k) with company contributions, and holiday and attendance bonuses. “What happened here in Marlborough is yet another clear indication that strikes work,” said Shannon George, Local 170 Secretary-Treasurer.
Despite changing the date due to rain, a lively crowd of over 170 people rallied at Stearns Square on Sunday and marched from there to Bliss Street Regulator Station. A diverse and enthusiastic group, they joined Springfield residents and included representatives from the 153 organizations across Massachusetts that co-sponsored the action. The focus of this event was twofold: (1) to amplify the voices of the growing movement to stop the Eversource’s proposed pipeline in Springfield and Longmeadow and (2) to call on the Healey administration to put a halt to new gas system expansions until we have a concrete plan for a just and rapid transition to the clean energy future we need for a livable ecosystem.
A hundred immigrant seafood processing workers in New Bedford, Massachusetts, lost their jobs March 31 when their employer abruptly terminated its contract with the temp agency that placed them. Workers say it was retaliation for organizing. Their fight will be a test case of new protections for immigrants who organize on the job. The company invited the fired workers to apply for their old jobs, but only a handful were actually rehired. “When the workers got the news, they started crying, worried about how they are going to pay their rent and bills,” said Ruth Castro, who has worked for five years at the plant and almost 20 years in the industry.
Boston, Massachusetts - The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity (Mass. CHE) held an online press conference on April 5 to demand the state keep protections against COVID-19 in place to safeguard health care workers, people with disabilities and the general population during the continuing pandemic. The conference was a response to Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healy’s decision to comply with the Biden administration’s decision to terminate the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11. Ending the PHE, which was initially declared by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in January 2020, will allow bosses at medical facilities in the U.S. privatized health care system to strip millions of health care workers and patients of safety measures, including masking, social distancing and surveillance testing.
The Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta is the proposed site of a massive police training facility, known to most as “Cop City.” Cop City is the logical outgrowth of violent, racialized capitalism in the United States. Corporations and wealthy Atlantans believe that they need a large and well-equipped police force to tamp down “crime” in the city they are working to gentrify, and have thus contributed financially to this project. As landlords and cops push Black residents out, wealthy, mostly white neighborhoods like Buckhead demand ever more police intervention to keep them and their ill-gotten wealth “safe.” With all their militarized training, equipment, and qualified immunity from prosecution, police murder thousands of people per year — disproportionately Black, Brown, and Indigenous.
Boston, Massachusetts - A month ago, I heard on the news that Boston public schools would be closed on February 3 because of the severe Arctic cold and wind chill forecast for that day and the next. My first thought was: what if the students’ mothers are working single mothers, what if they cannot take off or cannot afford to lose the pay – given inflation of food, energy and rents and the impoverishing impact of Covid? Boston is a severely unequal city with an extremely segregated public school system: 80 percent of children in public school are low income; 90 percent are students of color, mainly Latino and Black; higher income families with children leave for suburbs when their children become of school age, according to the Dorchester Reporter.