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I love it when I get to write about rogue companies. Not for the mischief they cause their workers, but for the Scooby Doo ear-raising "Hruh?" moment I sometimes get when I learn just how out-of-touch some of them can be. Mostly for thinking they can hide their actions.

I think they're empty. I know you probably were expecting something a bit more opinionated and angry than that. After all, on Howie Klein's Down with Tyranny blog I already labeled them needlessly, heartlessly greedy. But that greed has got to come from somewhere, you know? I often wonder when, exactly, it is that senior management at companies like this lose the ability to fill their hearts with human kindness and instead try filling the resulting spiritual hole with money. Of course, a hole in the soul is an infinite void that no amount of money could ever fill. So my best guess is spiritual bankruptcy is what leads Express Scripts and their ilk to lay off hundreds of workers at holiday time, penalize them further for being unhappy about it, and simultaneously celebrate how profitable a year they've had. There's a pretty potent definition of shamelessness in all of that.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Express Scripts decided to suspended without pay three of the one-thousand workers at the Bensalem, Pennsylvania, plants that it plans to shutter before Christmas. The three workers had just returned from company locations in St. Louis and  New York City where they were part of an effort to let shareholders, company executives, and  customers know what was going on in Bensalem.

The suspensions, which you probably guessed already, are illegal. Federal labor law  allows union workers to discuss working conditions publicly. (The Scooby "Hruh?" here is, of course, that companies like this do illegal things like that as if they can get away with them, because they often do get away without them.) A rally was  held the Friday before Thanksgiving in Bensalem to call for the workers' reinstatement. But  as of now, they remain laid off and the Bensalem plants are still set to  close in mid-December.

This diary entry has as much of a resolution as the ongoing fight for fairness in Bensalem. I just went through our most major of American holidays and (my liberally observed) Shabbat back-to-back, thankful for my friends and colleagues, and for my community--online, offline, personal, Jewish, Chicagoan, American, global--and for my place in all of it, which matters very much to me. But it's also hard not be aware of the pain and sadness and inequity that exists on this planet on Thanksgiving or any other day. And most of all, how so much of it happens because human beings just like you and me forget how to treat other human beings.

Just like you and me.

Originally posted to Chicago Carless on Sun Nov 28, 2010 at 11:06 AM PST.

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