News in Brief: July 21, 2014
Pro-Choice Massachusetts – State House
In a statement released last week, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts thanked Gov. Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Senate President Therese Murray, State Senator Harriette Chandler, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo for their efforts in filing the bill entitled, An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities, which aims to address safety concerns that have arisen since the US Supreme Court struck down the Massachusetts buffer zone law.
According to Megan Amundson, the group’s executive director, “In McCullen v Coakley, the US Supreme Court determined that harassment against women isn’t harassment. It made a false distinction between protestors and so-called ‘sidewalk counselors.’ The protestors outside of health care clinics are not sidewalk counselors: they are people with an ideological agenda who often offer medically inaccurate information to shame and coerce women out of making their own health care decisions. Their actions are no less harassing or intimidating because they come from a petite elderly woman rather than a muscular man.
“For any woman who has struggled with the decision to have an abortion or who is simply trying to access a mammogram or birth control, it does not matter if the Supreme Court calls the person who approaches her on the sidewalk a protestor or a so-called ‘sidewalk counselor’—both engage in harassing and intimidating activities. That is why this legislation is so important. It provides additional tools to ensure that all women can access health care free from harassment and intimidation. This legislation carefully balances public safety and access with free speech rights. We urge the Legislature to quickly take up this bill and ensure that it passes before the end of the legislative session to protect safe access to clinics,” she continues.
MBTA Janitors – State House
MBTA janitors and supporters continued their protests on Tuesday last week with a rally outside the State House on Tuesday calling on Gov. Patrick for help in what they say is their fight to stop unprecedented cuts to the MBTA contracted cleaning workforce that could put a third of the T’s cleaners out of work. The janitors say they are already gathering support in the legislature, and over 50 legislators have sent a letter to Secretary Davey urging the MBTA and the MBTA Board of Directors “to take all necessary steps to ensure that it does not go forward with its current plan to decrease quality of service, cut necessary jobs that working families and the public rely on and hurt our local economy.”
Boston Jobs Coalition – Roxbury
Local construction workers on Madison Park's Tropical Foods project are being paid poverty wages by the Madison Park Community Development Corporation according to the Boston Jobs Coalition who held a protest at the Roxbury store on Wednesday last week. The labor group and construction workers are demanding prevailing wage on all construction sites, living wages with benefits for all permanent jobs, that 30% of subcontracts go to construction companies of color, 51% of construction jobs go to Boston residents, 51% to people of color, 15% to women, 51% of permanent jobs go to Boston residents, 51% people of color, and 50% to women.
United for Justice with Peace and Jewish Voice for Peace – Park St.
In response to the continued assaults on the Palestinian territories by the Israeli military, United for Justice with Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other social justice and Palestine solidarity groups, held a rally at Park St. station on Saturday last week. According to a release, “In response to the urgent call from Palestinian civil society, we protest the US government’s continued monetary and military support of Israel. The U.S. currently provides Israel with weapons and spends annually over three billion of our tax dollars in aid to Israel. Israel uses this money and weaponry to maintain an illegal and immoral occupation of Gaza.” The coalition of groups are calling for an end to the Israeli ground and air offensive, an end to US aid to Israel, and support for the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS).