Environmental groups today celebrated the enactment of Massachusetts’ new climate law, An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind, which will expand clean energy development and end renewable energy subsidies for wood-burning power plants. The new law makes Massachusetts the first state in the nation to remove woody biomass from its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS). While there are only two small biomass plants that currently qualify for MA’s RPS, that number was poised to balloon as a result of imminent changes to the program advanced by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). By removing woody biomass from the RPS program altogether, the new law will prevent DOER’s rule changes from going into effect.
Massachusetts - Workers at a Massachusetts Trader Joe's on Thursday voted to become the first of the supermarket chain's more than 500 locations to unionize, a historic development that comes amid a nationwide labor organizing wave. Employees at the Trader Joe's in Hadley, a suburb of Springfield, voted 45-31 to form a union, according to the National Labor Relations Board. "WE WON!!! Today, Trader Joe's Hadley became the first unionized Trader Joe's location, ever," the new union, Trader Joe's United, tweeted. "This victory is historic, but not a surprise. Since the moment we announced our campaign, a majority of the crew have enthusiastically supported our union, and despite the company's best efforts to bust us, our majority has never wavered."
Unionized Starbucks workers at the 874 Commonwealth Avenue location in Boston, Massachusetts are on strike indefinitely, demanding guaranteed hours, adequate staffing, and the removal of a store manager who has created a “chaotic and hostile work environment,” including making racist and homophobic comments against staff and customers. The store, which is located on the main thoroughfare of Boston University’s campus and services many of its students and staff, has been shut down since July 18; workers and their supporters have been picketing each day outside the store even as an intense heat wave strikes much of the country. They say they will prevent any deliveries from coming to the store. In response, Teamsters local 25 is refusing to make deliveries to the store in solidarity with the strike.
New Bedford, Massachusetts - Before dawn, Jerry Leeman churned through inky black waters, clutching the wheel of the fishing vessel Harmony. The 85-foot trawler, deep green and speckled with rust, was returning from a grueling fishing trip deep into the Atlantic swells. Leeman and his crew of four had worked 10 consecutive days, 20 hours a day, to haul in more than 50,000 pounds of fish: pollock, haddock and ocean perch, a trio known as groundfish in the industry and as whitefish in the freezer aisle. As sunrise broke over New Bedford harbor, the fish were offloaded in plastic crates onto the asphalt dock of Blue Harvest Fisheries, one of the largest fishing companies on the East Coast. About 390 million pounds of seafood move each year through New Bedford’s waterfront, the top-earning commercial fishing port in the nation.
Brookline, Massachusetts - Striking has been illegal for public employees in Massachusetts since 1919. But in Brookline, a small suburb of Boston, we did it anyway. Out of a membership of 1,100, more than 900 signed in on the picket lines May 16. The strike culminated with a thousand educators descending on town hall for a rally with allies from around the state. Our bargaining team negotiated into the early hours of the next morning. When the sun rose, we had won two back-to-back three-year contracts with guaranteed prep periods for all educators, a fair pay raise including important changes to longevity structures, and language aimed at attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce. In short, we won all our demands with minimal compromise. Perhaps more important, we ended a cycle of disrespect and showed that we are willing to take collective action.
Worcester, Massachusetts - The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding failure at every level of government to prevent its spread dealt a devastating blow to healthcare workers. Nurses, doctors, and other medical workers faced increasingly dangerous conditions, along with employers more concerned with increasing profits than saving the lives of their patients or employees. At St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, nurses fought back against their corporate employer by organizing a strike of over 700 workers that lasted for 10 months. Filmed by TRNN contributor Gino Canella, these interviews with St. Vincent nurses comprise an oral history of a ferocious labor battle that became the longest nurses’ strike in Massachusetts state history.
The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group held a press conference on the steps of Springfield City Hall on May 31, highlighting the opposition of many Springfield and Longmeadow residents and organizations to Eversource Gas’ proposed high-pressure gas expansion pipeline that would run beneath the streets of Springfield and Longmeadow. The press conference was held in response to Eversource initiating the process it must go through to obtain all necessary permits to build and operate the pipeline. Speakers included Springfield City Council member Zaida Govan, Kristen Elechko from Senator Ed Markey’s office, Terry Gibson from Neighbor to Neighbor, Tanisha Arena from Arise for Social Justice.
Hadley, Massachusetts - Employees at the Trader Joe’s in Hadley are attempting to form a union, which if successful would make their workplace the first unionized Trader Joe’s in the country. “We feel that a union is the only way to protect the benefits that we have and to improve our pay and to improve our benefits and improve our workplace,” said Maeg Yosef, an 18-year employee of Trader Joe’s and an organizer of the union. The union effort at Store 512 went public on Saturday, with a letter from the union to Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane saying that more than half of the workers at the store support forming a union, and asking that he allow a union vote without interference. Their letter also references a letter sent to the workers two years ago by Bane that expressed opposition to employees unionizing.
Belmont, Massachusetts - Local union organizers have scored another victory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, after winning two votes on Friday to unionize all hourly clinical staff like nurses and mental health specialists who assist with patient care. In September, research assistants at the nationally prominent Harvard-affiliated psychiatric treatment and research institution formed a union — the first, the organizers say, in the hospital’s long history. All hourly clinical staff, excluding those with advanced degrees, will be part of the union if Friday's votes are confirmed. Through the effort, union organizers from AFSCME Council 93, which represents some 45,000 mostly state and municipal workers in New England, said about one-third of McLean’s approximately 2,400 employees may soon be unionized.
There is currently heightened concern about nuclear threats being made in relation to the war in Ukraine, although the danger of nuclear war or accidental detonation is ever present. Massachusetts is a potential target, because it is home to important nuclear weapons facilities and corporations as well as culturally significant landmarks. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force as international law in January 2021. This “Nuclear Ban Treaty” is intended to reduce the nuclear danger to zero, but enforcing it may also affect jobs with Raytheon, General Dynamics, Draper Labs and ten other nuclear weapon-producing companies that have facilities in Massachusetts. The Commission would explore how those jobs might be converted to green technologies or other important industries.
Massachusetts - Under the threat of the proposed Eversource pipeline and stormy skies, 200 residents from Springfield, Longmeadow and across the Commonwealth demanded that Eversource cancel the Proposed Springfield-Longmeadow gas pipeline. The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and the Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group along with 57 co-sponsoring organizations, many from Springfield, came together on Saturday afternoon, April 9th to say “No!” to Eversource’s proposed Springfield-Longmeadow natural gas pipeline. Cut short by flashes of lightning and the cry of thunder, the rally ended for safety reasons, resulting in the large crowd hearing only half of the speakers waiting their turn to take a stand against this proposed pipeline.
Boston, Massachusetts - Last weekend in South Boston, around 50 people mobilized to counter a possible appearance by the neo-Nazi group the Nationalist Social Club-131 (a nod to both the ‘National Socialism’ of the Nazi Party and ‘Anti-Communist Action’), after public outcry grew following the group’s appearance at the yearly St. Patrick’s Day parade. At the parade, around a dozen neo-Nazis, all wearing masks and flying a flag with a white nationalist symbol, held a banner reading, “Keep Boston Irish,” and handed out flyers promoting the group and attacking non-whites.
Right now a group of activists with Resist and Abolish the Military Industrial Complex (RAM INC) are taking over the roof of Raytheon's facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Raytheon’s parking garage has also been blockaded and there is a disruption happening in the facility's main lobby. They are there to demand that Raytheon stop profiting from war, genocide and colonial violence. Raytheon is the largest producer of guided missiles in the world and is the second largest military contractor. They have made billions in profits from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They also have numerous contracts with ICE and other border enforcement agencies around the world.
Massachusetts - As the organized opposition to the “Big Tech loophole law” ballot initiative grows in Massachusetts, a number of key consumer, community, and civil rights groups have joined with workers’ rights advocates to announce their commitment of activating and growing the coalition opposing that initiative under a new name: Massachusetts is not for Sale. The new Massachusetts is not for Sale name also reflects the concerns shared by coalition members regarding the record-shattering infusions of cash that Big Tech employers are pumping into the coffers of the corporate-funded committee advocating for the passage of the Big Tech loophole law both at the State House and as a November 2022 ballot question.
Given the violent history of English colonizers in New England, it’s a wonder why the state insignia of Massachusetts, fully emblazoned on today’s state flag, still includes a sword dangling over the head of a Native American. It was a little more than 30 years ago when the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority got rid of its offensive logo that featured a pilgrim’s hat with a Native American arrow shot through the middle of it. The state insignia still stands, and like many campaigns to rid schools and towns of demeaning mascots and public statues, the efforts to remove it starts with an accurate version of history. In the case of the Mass Pike logo, it started with a letter-writing campaign by second graders learning about the history of Plymouth Plantation in 1620.