Tag Archives: workers

Dying for fashion

Clark University
950 Main St.
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons


Jan. 25 at Clark University: ‘Dying for Fashion’ lecture

Noted sociologist, author to present talk about apparel industry’s dark side
“Dying for Fashion: A First-Hand Report on the Hidden Cost of Our Clothes” is the topic of an upcoming talk by Clark University sociologist Professor Robert J.S. Ross at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, in the Higgins Lounge at Clark’s Dana Commons.
Drawing on his decades of research and having traveled to Bangladesh to investigate and study the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in 2013, Prof. Ross will discuss the horrific conditions of the global apparel business, where profits are outweighing the livelihood of workers.
The event is free and open to the public and co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, and the Geography, Sociology, Political Science, and IDCE departments. 
Since the 1990s, Prof. Ross has conducted research on the resurgence of sweatshops in the global apparel industry, and has since had his work on the topic published in The Nation, Foreign Affairs, and other media.

His book “Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and the Abuse in the New Sweatshop” brings light to the unseen horrors faced by    apparel industry workers, both in the United States and abroad. Ross helped establish Clark University’s undergraduate program in Urban Development and Social Change.

Workers! Know your rights under the law!

Central West Justice Center & Community Legal Aid is holding its first Wage and Hour Clinic to assist eligible individuals with  wage and hour claims.

Wage and Hour Clinic

April 28

6 PM

405 Main St.,  3rd Floor, Worcester


·            Presentation on Your Legal Rights Under Wage and Hour Laws (in Spanish and English)

·            Individual consultation will be given to eligible participants as space and time permit, following the presentation.

·       Space and time for individual consultations are limited.  To ensure an individual consultation, individuals should pre-register.

·       For an individual consultations, a registrant must be low-income or elderly and reside in Central or Western Massachusetts.

·       Free consultation on demand letters, small claims court and other avenues for protecting rights under the wage and hour laws will be provided.

·         To pre-register, apply online at http://communitylegal.org/applications/unemployment, and note that you would like to attend the wage and hour training.

If you do not have access to the internet you may contact Evelyn at (844) 295-4240 ext. 5343 or evelasquez@cla-ma.org<mailto:evelasquez@cla-ma.org>.

Topics for the presentation and consultation include:

·         Minimum Wage

·         Overtime Pay

·         Non-Payment of Wages/ Late Pay/Bounced Checks

·         Meal Breaks

·         Day of Rest

·         Unlawful Deductions

·         Failure to provide records

·         Failure to provide pay stubs

·         Retaliation

·         Vacation/Sick Time Pay

·         Commissions

·         Misclassification as Independent Contractor

Tomorrow! Be there! Let city leaders know you want JOBS for Worcesterites!

MAKE SURE BRADY SULLIVAN DOESN’T LEAVE LOCAL WORKERS OUT IN THE COLD if they get the old Worcester courthouse job!

MAKE SURE THEY HIRE SHOPS WITH APPRENTICE PROGRAMS if they are chosen to redevelop the old Worcester courthouse by Lincoln Square!

Local jobs for locals!  Now!     – R. Tirella


Worcester City Hall
Main Street
5 p.m.

Worcester City Council Economic Development Committee:

Rick Rushton(chair), Sarai Rivera & George Russell

Hearing on Courthouse Development

5 pm, Tuesday, March 31

3rd floor,  Worcester City Hall

What do we want the City to do in the Courthouse agreement ?

·         to provide local jobs for local people

·         have an agreement that is verifiable, “better effort” isn’t good enough

·         put a penalty in place if the agreement is broken

Please come and add your voice and your support!

Local Jobs for Local People!

Mass minimum wage goes up to $9 an hour January 1, 2015. Then increases to $10, $11 … KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

Nice but NOT a living wage for Massachusetts workers … – R.T.


In accordance with An Act Restoring the Minimum Wage and Providing Unemployment Insurance Reforms Chapter 144 of the Acts of 2014

Effective January 1, 2015

MINIMUM WAGE in Massachusetts will be $9.00 PER HOUR

The minimum wage law applies to all employees except those being rehabilitated or trained in charitable, educational, or religious institutions; members of religious orders; agricultural, floricultural, and …

… horticultural workers; those in professional service; and outside salespersons not reporting to or visiting their office daily.

See M.G.L. chapter 151, §§1 and 2. For further information regarding the Massachusetts state minimum wage

If you have questions, please contact the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards at (617) 626-6952 …

… or visit www.mass.gov/dols.

In no case shall the Massachusetts minimum wage rate be less than $0.50 higher than the effective federal minimum rate.


Wait staff, service employees and service bartenders may be paid the service rate if they regularly receive tips of more than $20 a month, and if their average hourly tips, when added to the service rate, are equal to or exceed the basic minimum wage. See M.G.L. chapter 151, §7.


Work on a farm and the growing and harvesting of agricultural, floricultural and horticultural commodities requires payment of no less than the above-listed rate per hour, except when such wage is paid to a child seventeen years of age or under, or to a parent, spouse, child or other member of the employer’s immediate family. See M.G.L. chapter 151, §2A.

Effective January 1, 2016:

• Minimum Wage shall be $10.00 per hour

• Service Rate shall be $3.35 per hour (provided service employee receives tips of more than $20 per month and if his/her average hourly tips, when added to the service rate, equals $10.00 per hour).

Effective January 1, 2017:

• Minimum Wage shall be $11.00 per hour

• Service Rate shall be $3.75 per hour (provided service employee receives tips of more than $20 per month and if his/her average hourly tips, when added to the service rate, equals $11.00 per hour).

Worcester working folks need jobs, jobs, jobs

By Rosalie Tirella

It’s heartbreaking that Whole Foods Market is gonna build their new market in SHREWSBURY (at the old Spags site on Rt. 9) and not in Worcester.  There go 175 part- and full-time jobs over the bridge! Bye bye! There they go to join the workers at Trader Joe’s, an organic, healthy foods store in Shrewsbury, a fun place to grocery shop, a place where the prices are low/reasonable, a place where I often get my fruits and veggies and cheeses, and even great greeting cards, for a buck!

A place I’d like to patronize IN WORCESTER, my home turf! A store I’d like to see employing my District 4 neighbors! Good people who used to have jobs but were laid off and are looking to rejoin the American workforce, in all its shabby glory.

WHAT IS WRONG, Worcester?


Why aren’t we wooing companies like Whole Foods Market to Worcester?

Why isn’t anyone doing the leg work to meet company heads from ALL OVER THE COUNTRY  to sell our great city to them?!


We have the upper-middle and middle-class folks to support a Whole Foods! Just like we have the solidly middle class people to support a Trader Joe’s!

While Worcester chamber of commerce head Tim Murray is bending over backwards pushing for the city to give tax breaks to bio tech companies to lure them to Woo, a good thing, I guess, he’s forgotten the working men and women. Probably because we’re mundane, our jobs not trendy or cool – unsexy. BUT: With our state minimum wage slated to increase (eventually) to $11 an hour, the 175 Whole Food jobs that are gonna go to Shrewsbury (in 2016) would have been a genuine boon to Worcester’s working class folks.

Our factories, for the most part, are long gone. Regular folks need regular jobs! It’s unrealistic to think every laid off short order cook or janitor is gonna go back to school or take night classes and join the new economy. Why not provide these basic jobs that keep people in my District 4 neighborhood afloat, in their apartments, driving their cars?

When the casino was rejected by Worcester and vice versa, I bumped into a 50-something guy who bemoaned the fact. He was a laid off short order cook and had been looking for a job for months.Sent out more than 150 resumes. He got a few nibbles, nothing substantial. The guy was hoping to get a cooking or kitchen job with the casino.

I told him: Well, the jobs weren’t going to be so great – just pay around $27,000 a year, not in the mid-$40s, like the city had thought.

He said: I’LL TAKE IT!!!!!!

A job, no matter what kind, = $$$$ to pay bills. Plus it’s DIGNITY for a lot of folks who’ve taken it on the chin maybe their whole lives, and NEED to feel needed, appreciated, important. My late mom worked at a dry cleaners for minimum wage –  for decades! – and LOVED HER JOB. She was a counter girl, took in people’s clothing,  gave them their dry cleaned or laundered stuff and worked the cash register.  She was a people person ALL THE WAY, totally enjoyed interacting with the public. Polite, well groomed, smart, well spoken. Her job was a huge part of her identity!  In the best way possible! I’ll never forget:  Every Christmas,  even Valentine’s Day, she was always loaded up with gifts her customers would give her. She was a working-class queen! For a few days, any ways!

We need to remember this. No job too small. No job too mundane.  I’m all for bio tech. But I’m for Whole Foods Market, too.

A STRONG MAYOR WOULD BE HUSTLING FOR MY SHORT ORDER COOK PAL and Woo working people in general. He or she would  want their votes. NEED THEIR SUPPORT.

Can you imagine somone running for strong mayor of Worcester, his or her platform being: JOBS FOR ALL!

Jobs for any Worcester guy or gal who needs a job, which is every adult pretty much.



Thank you, Worcester Bishop Robert McManus …

By Rosalie Tirella

… for standing up for working families in Massachusetts, along with the other fab MA prelates, to call for an increase in the state’s minimum wage. The Catholic church has always been on the vanguard of economic justice. Unlike our disappointing Worcester politicians, you’ve spoken from your heart. You’ve spoken the truth: people who work in the service industry don’t get paid enough money. Their 40 hour a week paychecks, sometimes cobbled together with two or three McJobs, have left them unable to pay for the basics, like rent or groceries. So many hungry kids in our state!!!! The Catholic church sees this reality every day as it works with the state’s working poor. Whether it be through its many food pantries or soup kitchens or the work of Catholic Charities the, in this case, MOST EXCELLENT CATHOLIC CHURCH, has its fingers on the pulse of the hardscrabble lives of so many Worcester working men and women.

I was raised by a single mother who worked 60 hours a week at a minimum wage job to keep her three girls fed, warm, clothed and sheltered. She was pretty, intelligent, wise, even enchanting, but her life opportunities were limited. So her life was hard. No minimum wage worker should have it as hard as my mom and her three daughters did.

So today, the first day of spring, I honor my late mom with a REBEL GREEN ISLAND GRRRL YELL! A living wage for all workers!!!!! RAISE THE FUCKING MINIMUM WAGE!

I wish Worcester City Council folks and chamber head Tim Murray would speak the truth, do the right thing, just as our bishops have on this first day of spring! INCREASE OUR MINIMUM WAGE, now a paltry $8 an hour, to something higher, more equitable.

No hunger, no poverty, no violence, no fear for Worcester’s working men and women!

And always remember what Jesus said: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to experience heaven.

An honest day’s work

By Edith Morgan

We celebrated Labor Day earlier this month, and some workers enjoyed a well-earned day of rest. Many did not, as they perform vital duties, often at low wages, to keep our society moving. My newspaper and mail have been crowded with ads for special sales, back-to-school sales, preparation for fall and winter; and already the Halloween stuff is out, though it is nearly two months away… Students are back in school, colleges are in full swing, and the mad rush toward the end of another year has begun.
When will we take time to stop and think? When do we examine our assumptions, decide whether our country is headed in the right direction, doing good rather than doing well, being good stewards of this small planet?

I always assumed that we are not here just to consume as much as we can, accumulate as much wealth as possible, and contribute a little to various causes, deducting the gift from our taxes so that the taxpayers foot the bill.

But times have slowly changed, and now too many of us think that we work just to make money to survive: and it is a constant race to see how little we can be paid, how much harder we can be made to work, and how much of our labor’s rewards can be funneled to those who do no work at all, but merely move money around.

The most important work – parenting, education, cleaning up, building roads, maintaining bridges, parks, rivers, water supplies, caring for those who can’t care for themselves, and many more, without which we could not survive, are still paid starvation wages, and have to fight constantly to keep their heads above water.I did not hear much about these everyday heroes who keep our society running, on this Labor Day.

But there is hope: I see a stirring in the ranks, a slow realization that doing the real work should be rewarded, supported. Only by being organized (“there is strength in numbers”) can decent treatment be assured. For too long we have stood by and watched working people take the blame for the greed and dishonesty of those above them.

For every “welfare queen” who may have helped to make her family’s life better, there are dozens of unpunished corporations, taking tax breaks and wasting billions of this country’s assets. Let us focus on the REAL criminals, not the penny ante individuals.
Now the focus has shifted to wrecking the “non-profits” that actually help people, and do not take big salaries for themselves: because they are often run by volunteers or untrained persons of good will but lack of expertise, their bookkeeping is not always up to par: so why not point out the errors, help them straighten out their books, and help them stay out of trouble? I do not know of any small charitable non=profit whose leadership has gotten rich off their funds. The very small number of them that are really frauds are taken care of quickly and effectively. Let’s fix, rather than punish.

My McDonald’s …












Rosalie and Jett, autumn 2012 … I am wearing the fall coat I wore last night while walking my little boy …


Greenwood Street McDonald’s worker, this afternoon

By Rosalie Tirella

Last night I walked my dog …and I wore my fall coat because it was so cold out. Heavy, dark, lined, my fave coat is perfect for the season, will cuddle me as I make my way through the Woo autumn landscape … .   Walking Jett, my little Mountain Feist/Husky, I thought  about the innocents of Syria – women, children  – dying from inhaling burning, toxic gases. Horrific ..  I want our president to intervene so badly …

I worried about the workers of America and wondered why we, the greatest country on earth, pay millions and millions of our people $7 or $8 an hour for all their hard work – and leave it to them to survive – meanly. Labor Day weekend and to have so many Americans struggling is disconcerting, depressing … These days in the USA, there is so little respect for labor! Our unions are at their weakest. Low wage workers (at least in Woo) too afraid to make some noise, agitate.

I visited my local  McDonalds today (on Greenwood Street) to take some more pics for my ICT stories on RAISING THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE TO AT LEAST $10/hour. The manager spoke to me. She said she had to give my paper – the one with the McDonald’s worker on the cover – to “headquarters” for them to peruse. And no, I could not talk with her or her workers or even take photos of the property for an InCity Times story. She told me she had liked the story. It was a good story. But everyone had to just work – they were alerted by “headquarters” that there would be walkouts and protests at McDonald’s all over the country. She acted as if this were a bad thing.

I said: PLEASE, WAKE UP!!! America supports you! You deserve to be making $10 or $11 an hour! You have the American right to organize. There is nothing wrong with demanding a living wage for a hard day’s night. Let’s get together, here! Please!!!

No go.

She was young – in her mid 20s – and she felt part of the McDonald’s team.  AND SHE DID NOT WANT TO LOSE HER JOB!

Her uniform was crisp and clean. Her hair pulled back, her name tag glinted in the summer sun (she was outside having a smoke).

I tried to educate, proselytize. I think if I had hung on a bit longer, she would have called 911.

I went inside “my” McDonald’s. I looked for my young friend, the young man I put on the cover of ICT a few issues ago. I did not see him. I got afraid for him. … I began chatting up another manager, a Latina who looked worried. I saw an older woman – late 50s maybe early 60s – at the fryolator removing baskets of french fries. She looked sweaty, tired. She turned to look at me as I spoke. My heart broke for this lady.

I got a coffee – fair trade, Newman’s own – all profits go to Paul Newman charities, specifically his Hole in the Wall camps for kids suffering from cancer.

The big cheeses of McDonald’s make billions of dollars. And they have tried to move in the right direction re: animal rights.

Why can’t they see people rights???


To learn more about the fight to raise the wages of fast-food workers in America, click here!



The New America

By Jack Hoffman

As unemployment grows, the poverty statistics grow with it. And the anger becomes greater. One wonders: When will the people take to the streets again?

Recently, on his radio talk show, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned “that if the national jobs crisis doesn’t end soon, the United States will soon see riots in the streets.”

Call it what you want, but the warnings of riots and revolution have been echoed all over the country in magazines, newspapers and talk on the radio and TV shows. Professor Thomas Kochan at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, certainly no bastion of liberalism, not only agrees with Mayor Bloomberg, but also was surprised there aren’t more visible signs of public anger/protests.

The real unemployment figure for the US has now reached a staggering 20%. And just how much is the real under-employment, meaning the figures on those who are now working a bare minimum of what they used to work and earn not so long ago. The figures I have used – and will use – are based on the US Dept. of Labor statistics. Recently, the job crisis has been inflamed with the new reports of poverty in America. That last statement is an obvious fact. If people are out of a job and working at a bare minimal wage – in many homes hamburger is now stretched thin with the addition of a crappy helper and in some cases dog food – they are POOR.

We here in the Bay State are fortunate compared to states like California, Nevada and parts of the Midwest that have double-digit unemployment. Places like Detroit and Milwaukee are almost wastelands compared to what they were 20 years ago. Here in Massachusetts we are more fortunate. Our unemployment figure for the past month has dipped from 7 ¾% to 7 ½%. In a recent Globe article is a listing of 15 town and cities where housing values have actually begun to rise.

I’m sure you all have heard the stories from neighbors, friends and within your own family. Take Bill Rickers of Hartford, Maine: In 1980 he fell through some boards while doing some carpentry work. He has since been unable to do any carpentry work. He has two college degrees. As a young man, Rickers worked as an electronics repairman, a pastor and a TV cameraman. He and his first wife had seven children. Now he receives food stamps, gets donations from a local food pantry store, and drives an 18-year-old car with 189,000 miles on it. About once every two months, as a treat, he goes out to lunch at a nearby lunch café.

After his accident Rickers was not able to tend to a three-unit apartment house he and his wife owned. They sold it, and bought a used trailer from the proceeds. If you think this is bad, he has serious back and shoulder injuries, his hands shake, he has congestive heart problems, asthma and arthritis. The stories go on and on.

That’s why I wasn’t so shocked when at a recent Republican debate Ron Paul was asked what do we do with folks like Ricker, who have no insurance — or any extra money Ricker has which is very little he uses for food. Mr. Paul’s answer was (in so many words): If he can’t get into a hospital he will just have to die.

At that moment there was a few dumb asses out there who actually applauded. I imagine some of the Tea Party/Fox TV crowd. I wasn’t surprised. Most likely the yelp and cheers came from the ones who love to raise the American flag on every holiday and consider themselves proud patriots.

Let the new figures speak for themselves:

Three out of four below the poverty line work; half have full-time jobs. One quarter work part-time. Only one quarter don’t work at all. So don’t give me that BS line “They should get a job.” 25% of all children, that’s 16.7 million, are living below the poverty line. 52% of all Americans, by the time they reach 65, will live in poverty. In one year, poverty has gone to 15% from 14.3%

Today there are 42 million Americans living in poverty. It has been more than 50 years since Edward R. Murrow telecast one of the most shocking and profound TV documentaries, A Harvest of Shame (poverty in America). That was a long time ago, and since then things have gotten worse.

Candidate Franco flubs up! AND: Community Health Link workers fight for fair wages!

Franco Flubs up!

John Mahoney, a small businessman and candidate for state representative in the 13th Worcester District, called on his opponent, personal injury attorney Paul Franco, to reconcile his position on growing businesses in Massachusetts with his decision to send campaign business to Minnesota.

Mr. Franco’s lawn signs, an expenditure of nearly $1,400, have been manufactured by a Minnesota company.

“I am the owner of a small business and I know that every dollar counts,” said Mahoney. “It is inexplicable to send campaign money out of state. I believe in investing in our people. We need to grow businesses right here at home and help them create jobs.  As state representative, that will be my top priority.”

In his platform, Mr. Franco calls on the state to adopt more business-friendly measures so that businesses will expand here – rather than in states with more “business friendly” climates.  Continue reading Candidate Franco flubs up! AND: Community Health Link workers fight for fair wages!