Left In Lowell

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May 15, 2006

Water Plant Still At Risk

by at 12:01 pm.

(Previously titled “Water to be SHUT DOWN” - as per the rude Anonymous, I’ve changed the title)
UPDATE III: From the Emergency Operations Center: They are NOT planning on shutting water at this time; they are doing everything possible to prevent it; they do not know if that will change due to the peak water rising in the next couple days. They have a number you can call with any questions: 978-970-4052. These are the people who will know first if the status of the water plant changes, or for that matter, you have any other emergency-related questions. They have personell from all the relevent departments in the operations center. Guess we’ll see how well the system works now!

Previously posted:
This is the latest I’ve heard from the DPD people I met and a Channel 8 camera person: the water will be shut down. It seems like it’s already happening. Fill your tubs so you can flush your toilet in the next few days, get containers and fill them with water NOW. I am already seeing a drop in water pressure in my house, I am trying to get my containers filled ASAP.

I think the Roarke Bridge is closed; between the Roarke and Varnum the the Boulevard (113/Pawtucket) is completely flooded (they are evacuating people still stuck around on the side streets off Varnum which are slowly flooding). Pawtucket St on the south side was starting to flood and will likely be closed soon. The School St bridge was still open last I checked. Centerville is flooded, I heard. We’re not at peak yet so assume that most low-lying roads near the river will be threatened.

The Lawrence mills were evacuated and are flooding on the first floor (an event the DPD was ready for and the blding is designed to handle).

If I find out more I will post.

I will be looking to hear from City Hall if they need volunteers for sandbagging (already I heard they are planning on sandbagging Pawtucket Blvd near Varnum or else Varnum will no longer be a good alternate route).

UPDATE: here is a list of roads already closed; they are asking people to avoid Varnum Ave unless you have to. Traffic already was insane coming up Broadway to Wilder also.

UPDATE II: Looks like upper Wilder St is shut down, no access to Pawtucket St between Wilder and Middlesex at all, according to the LowellMA website.

February 15, 2006

Union Organizing in Lowell

by at 3:55 pm.

This Friday, February 17 over 200 employees of LifeLinks in Lowell will be deciding whether they want to join a union, in this case, the fastest growing union in the United States, Service Employees International Union (SEIU). If the workers agree to join that union, they will be affiliated with Local 509. To say that the interaction between the Union organizers and LifeLinks, especially its Executive Director have been confrontational is a major understatement.

While some labor unions in the United States are facing a decrease in members; diminishing influence; indecisive strategies and a floundering structure, SEIU with a membership of 1.8 million in the U.S. and Canada is a power house. SEIU is a diversified union that has about 60% women, 40% non-white and it represents more immigrant workers than any other union.

SEIU is one of the unions that disaffiliated itself from the AFL-CIO last year. They represent health care workers, including hospital employees, nurses, doctors, home-care providers, and group home staff members.

This is where the LifeLinks connection comes in. This organization is a human service agency that provides direct care and services for persons with development disabilities. It was incorporated in 1955 and according to SEIU it receives over 94% of its funding through state and federal government programs.

Last week the hosts of WCAP morning talk show spoke by telephone to one of the SEIU organizing officials. The interview was requested by Paul Georges, the President of the Lowell Teachers Union and a member of the Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council. The interview was informative and conducted in a cordial manner. I understood from the interview that they would be some kind of demonstration.

According to the SEIU website a delegation of community and labor leaders, led by clergy, attempted to meet with LifeLinks’ Executive Director. They accuse her of not allowing the union to organize. Not only she refused to meet with them but she called the police. So, they left and apparently went to the Sun building.

The Union has organized a letter writing campaign to alert our State Senators and Representative of their concerns that some of LifeLinks tactics may be in violation of the law. The Sun had previously printed an article on this issue and LifeLinks did not deny that they had taken action against the organizing of the union, all of which is legal, but they insisted that the funds used for these activities were private monies and not public grants.

According to this Sunday’s Column in the Sun, State Senator Steve Panagiotakos wrote a letter to LifeLinks to remind them that individuals have the right to organize into a union and urged them to stay neutral in this effort. Apparently, state auditors are reviewing LifeLinks accounts to determine if any public funds were used towards an anti-union effort. So far the State has found no wrongdoing by the agency but the investigation is not complete. (more…)

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