The Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center builds power with low-wage and immigrant workers throughout Western Massachusetts. Together, we organize to build community and win real change in the lives of working people.
We envision a society free of exploitation and oppression, where all people have the resources to live happy lives.
As we fight to dismantle the old society, we wish to build institutions that directly represent the interests of working people and create an economy that is rooted in democracy and ecological sustainability. In the past, workers have built workers councils and cooperatives to democratically make decisions about their workplaces. This vision and the beliefs it is built on are woven throughout all of our projects and campaigns.
The PVWC is committed to taking a range of actions to address issues of concern.
Engage in innovative and creative worker-driven organizing to address issues of concern to working, low-wage and immigrant workers in the Pioneer Valley
Create avenues for leadership development and organizing skills so that workers can advocate for themselves and others while building a participatory democratic space for the promotion and defense of worker rights
Build coalitions and partnerships with unions, community groups, faith groups, and individuals .to increase organizing opportunities
Expand our political power in the Pioneer Valley and strengthen the voice of vulnerable workers in the political process
Employ popular education methodologies to provide trainings related to workers’ rights, organizing, and unions
Facilitate research into potential organizing targets through partnerships with local academic institutions
Provide legal services, processing of wage and hour claims, workmen’s compensation cases, and immigration assistance
The PVWC is a non-hierarchical organization, and is run cooperatively. All major decisions are made collectively by staff and our worker leaders, as well as with input the worker committees.
Rose Bookbinder, Lead Organizer
Rose Bookbinder is an organizer with WMJWJ and has been involved with the PVWC since its inception. She began her career fighting for workers rights in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley of NY, working with day laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors. As a lead organizer for the United Auto Workers, she worked with Casino Dealers and Higher Ed, and with AFSCME, she worked with food service workers. In times of transition Rose always finds herself back in the restaurant industry and is excited to be a part of organizing that will bring systemic change to the food system in Western Mass. She is on the Leadership team of the PVWC and serves as its Coordinator.
Gabriella Della Croce, Lead Organizer
Gabriella della Croce is an organizer and educator whose work has always revolved around food systems, food access and environmental justice. She has a wide range of experience in development, sales, communications, education and cooperative enterprises as well as in the restaurant industry. Gabriella spent two years in Nicaragua doing international development before deciding to redirect her organizing efforts back home, and is thrilled to be organizing in her home turf. Her time is split between Northampton and Springfield, where she also does development work with Gardening the Community.
Diana Sierra, Lead Organizer
Diana Sierra has primarily worked in student, immigrant, labor, and solidarity movements. From 2011-2014, she worked as a union officer in order to link the “bread and butter demands” of graduate students to a broader movement to democratize the university. Since 2013, she has worked as a popular educator, collaborating with a Salvadoran museum to link history education to social justice. She holds a PhD in History and Women's Studies from the University of Michigan and is currently a lecturer at Smith College.
Margaret Sawyer, Lead Organizer
Margaret coordinates the Springfield Workers Committee, leads the PVWC Interfaith Sanctuary and Solidarity Network, and assists with finances and development. She also helped to launch the ACLUM Immigrant Protection Project of Western Massachusetts, where she served as Project Coordinator for a six month pilot project, and is now a staff advisor. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Margaret has an extensive background in working on immigrant and farmworker rights, often from a faith perspective. She founded the Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement in 2007, uniting immigrants and congregations to support families facing detention and to speak up for immigrant rights. Soon after, Margaret moved to Oxnard California where she served as Executive Director and Development Director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) from 2010 to 2016.
Eve Weinbaum has been involved with the PVWC since the early discussions about protecting and advancing workers’ rights in Western Mass. She is the Director of the Labor Center at UMass Amherst, where she is a faculty member and runs two Master’s Degree programs for students, activists, and labor movement leaders. She is also vice president of the MSP, the faculty and librarians’ union at UMass, and was previously an organizer with HERE and ACTWU/UNITE.
Shelley Zimbalist is a longtime activist and non-profit leader. With a background in housing, mediation, community organizing and social justice philanthropy she currently is a philanthropic advisor and nonprofit consultant. She has been a non-violence trainer of trainers and has participated in nonviolent direct action. She originally got involved with PVWC as a grant maker, drawn by the economic justice work of the center.
Andrew Stachiw is a licensed high school teacher in MA, an adjunct in the Farm and Food Systems at GCC, and a worker-owner at the Toolbox for Education and Social Action, a worker-owned cooperative created to democratize education and the economy while furthering the cooperative movement. Through his work at TESA, Andrew has run cooperative academies in across the country, helping to start over 20 worker-coops. Andrew is also on the advisory board for both the worker-cooperative Peer Mentorship Program.
Fiore Grassetti has been involved with the PVWC, and brings construction industry related skills/interests to the project, as well as other board experience. Ironworkers Local 7 Business Agent; Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council AFL-CIO President; Hampshire Franklin Central Labor Council AFL-AIO Corresponding Secretary; Western MASS COSH Board member; Green Work Board member; Regional Employment Board member; Springfield Redevelopment Authority Board member; Pioneer Valley Building Trades Recording Secretary; Berkshire Building Trades member; Ironworkers IMPACT Region 1 Board member; Western MA Job With Justice Board member.
Mike Florio is executive director of Western MassCOSH. He is a retired member of Operating Enginers, Local 98, and was their apprenticeship instructor. Based on his dedication to worker safety, he was appointed their Director of Safety Training. Mike is qualified for all aspects of safety training, with special expertise in cranes and trenching. Mike was one of the first members of Western MassCOSH. He served on the original Executive Board, beginning in 1991, and held that office until he became Executive Director in 2006.
Clare Hammonds is a Professor of Practice at the UMass Amherst Labor Center where she coordinates and conducts applied research. Prior to working at the Labor Center she worked as a researcher and labor educator for the Massachusetts Early Childhood Educators Union (MECEU). Clare has conducted research for the PVWC as well as a variety of other labor organizations including the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). Clare will receive a Ph.D. in Sociology in 2014 from Brandeis University.
Jon Weissman is Coordinator of Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. Jon came into the Post Office in Springfield the week of the historic wildcat strike, March 1970, retired from his job as a US Postal Service City Letter Carrier in 2002 after 32 years, and stepped down as President of his union, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Western Mass. Branch 46, in January 2007, after 12 years. He immediately went to work part-time as Coordinator, Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council, for 5 years, as well as the part-time WMJwJ Coordinator, which is now full-time. He is also the elected Secretary of WMJwJ and Secretary-Treasurer, Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council. Jon is a Trustee and Secretary, Warren J. Plaut Charitable Trust, and a former Director, Rosenberg Fund for Children.
Jeff Jones has been involved with PVWC, and brings to the project an extensive background in the Labor movement. Currently, Jeff is a Union Representative for UFCW Local 1459 where he represents approximately 2,000 members. Before joining Local 1459, Jeff served as a Shop Steward for 21 years. He is a long-time member and supporter of Jobs with Justice. Recent accomplishments include helping to organize and ratify contracts at food co-ops in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro VT.
Ron Patenaude is president of UAW 2322 in Western Mass, which represents close to 4,000 workers in higher and early education and human services. In 1998 Ron Patenaude joined his coworkers at Sisters of Providence Hospital to help lead and win a campaign to join UAW 2322. After six years on the bargaining committee covering four contract negotiations he ran and was was elected president in 2004. Ron was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Corporation by Governor Deval Patrick during his 1st term. In that position, overseeing $30 million in job training funds, he advocated for training and career ladders for lower wage workers in the healthcare & human services and early education fields.
Partnerships & Affiliations
Our work is based on a solid foundation of many organizational partnerships.
We also work closely with numerous organizational partners including the United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE-HERE, University of Massachusetts Labor Center, Western MassCOSH, Arts and Democracy Project, Agrarian Action Network, the Agricultural Justice Project, and more!