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New western Mass labor federation forms

  • From left, Caroline Dube, Allison Burke and Aubrey Kocjan, all employees at the Northampton Stop & Shop, on strike in April. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/21/2019 4:34:43 PM
Modified: 8/21/2019 4:34:33 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Unions and labor leaders from across the region are gathering Thursday to launch the first-ever labor federation representing all four counties in western Massachusetts.

The Western Mass Area Labor Federation, or WMALF, will combine what was previously three separate “central labor councils” representing the western part of the state. Now, unions in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties will join together as the WMALF, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO — the country’s largest federation of unions.

“It was basically over two years in the making,” said Jeff Jones, the interim chairman of WMALF and a union representative from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459.

“It’s an attempt to combine resources, increase organizing, increase networking and play a bigger role in western Massachusetts,” Jones said.  

More than 100 area labor leaders will meet to launch the organization on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the VFW in Florence. Unions at the meeting will share information about their current campaigns.

Jones said the organization hopes to act as a unified voice to advocate for the region’s union and non-union workers, alike.

“One thing is clear, and that is workers — whether they’re organized or not organized in a union — are under attack by corporate employers,” Jones said.

Giving examples of situations where an organization like WMALF could have played a role in labor disputes, Jones mentioned the recent strike by Stop & Shop employees and contentious contract negotiations this year between Northampton Public Schools and its employees. 

“We think the Western Mass Area Labor Federation puts us in a better position to move forward,” Jones said. “And we need to move forward.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at

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