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PNS Daily Newscast - November 17, 2017 


The Keystone oil pipeline spills big time in South Dakota; a look at the GOP tax plan and it’s impact on the most vulnerable Americans; and renewed hope for Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters national monument.

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For Some in New England, Labor Day Meant One-Day Strike

New England fast-food workers elected to walk off the job in many cities, including Boston and Hartford, for Labor Day in their fight for a $15 hourly wage. (SEIU)
New England fast-food workers elected to walk off the job in many cities, including Boston and Hartford, for Labor Day in their fight for a $15 hourly wage. (SEIU)
September 5, 2017

BANGOR, Maine – While many of us had a day off on Labor Day, fast-food workers in 300 cities, including some in New England states, walked off their jobs in a call for better wages and the right to join a union. The walkouts began as early as 6 A.M.

Among the workers calling for a better deal was Barbara Fisher of Boston. She's worked in the fast-food business for the past five years and says she currently makes $11 an hour, which isn't enough to support her family.

"I need $15 an hour and union rights," she says. "I'm a mom of two kids and I'm struggling; I need to be protected because I'm a mom and, you know, my kids get sick. Union rights, you know, it will do a lot."

Massachusetts workers also rallied in support of a paid medical leave bill now pending in the legislature. Should state lawmakers not take action, labor unions are supporting ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and provide for paid medical leave.

Roxana Rivera is vice-president of the service employees' union 32BJ SEIU. She says the show of force in so many cities on Labor Day was intended to make a point. She contends a fix is needed for the economic and political systems in the U.S. that the union believes are rigged to benefit big corporations over working people.

"The issue of low wages, the issue of inability - to not be able to care for your loved ones without the risk of losing your job," says Rivera. "In Massachusetts, as well as in other cities, there are workers that are on the lower rung of the service economy that really need to have the right to form a union, without retaliation from employers."

Rivera says the Service Employees International Union is joining forces on a massive voter engagement drive ahead of the 2018 elections. She says it's aimed at unseating "anti-worker" politicians and electing leaders who support a $15 hourly minimum wage and collective-bargaining rights.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME