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When Workers Refuse to be Devalued

You may have heard about the kerfuffle up here in New England centered around the Market Basket chain of grocery stores. They're mostly in the Boston area, although we do have one in Maine about 20 minutes down the turnpike in Biddeford. Workers, managers, drivers and customers have been rebelling en masse after CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas got booted in a family dispute over control of the company. The new CEO, Arthur S. Demoulas, apparently gets all queasy when he thinks about treating employees as generously as his cousin does, and he wants to inject some old-fashioned greed-centric heel-grinding into their lives.

The dispute has brought the company to a standstill, and despite warnings of mass firings by the new boss, nobody has blinked. Matthew Fleischer sums up well in The Los Angeles Times why this dispute is so significant:

Market Basket store in New England
Market Basket under Arthur T. was everything the Occupy movement said American business could be. Its executives are rich, its workers fairly compensated, and its customers satisfied. The company is living proof that low worker pay is not a matter of economic necessity, it’s a choice rooted in greed. If a regional grocery store chain can pay workers fairly, offer discount prices, and still make billions, that means the retail monoliths of the world such as Wal-Mart should have no problem doing the same. Companies such as Wal-Mart choose not to pay their workers fairly, and claim false poverty when pressured to improve their workers’ lots.

The Market Basket saga is far more important than the fate of one ousted CEO. It’s about the future of American capitalism. So long as Market Basket exists in its current state, any argument against guaranteeing a living wage to American workers rings demonstrably false. The company was a beacon for how American business can and should be run. We should all be voicing our support to keep it that way.

And guess what? It's looking like the George Baileys are going to prevail over the Henry Potters if a proposed offer is accepted (a meeting last night was canceled, but no one's walking away), and we may be witnessing a little labor history here. May the best Arthur win.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Monday, August 25, 2014

Note:  [Pours bucket of ice water over head]  Not raising awareness for anything.  Just trying to wake the hell up.


Blue Hill Fair (Maine) sign
3 days!!!
By the Numbers:
Days 'til primaries in Arizona, Vermont, Florida and a runoff in Oklahoma: 1
Days 'til Maine's Blue Hill Fair: 3
Estimated number of species on Earth: 8.7 million
(Source: Scientists)
Percent of Americans who are and aren't, respectively, concerned there’ll be an Ebola outbreak in U.S. within 12 months: 39% / 59%
(Source: Harvard School of Public Health)
Miles per gallon the Elio three-wheel commuter car gets: 84
Number of advance orders placed for Elios at $6,800 each: 27,000
(Source: AP)
AOL dial-up subscribers, who made up 1/3 of company
sales in the second quarter: 2.3 million


Cast member Robin Williams gestures at a panel for the television series
NEW! Your Monday Robin Williams Moment

“If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.”

"Is it rude to Twitter during sex? To go 'omg, omg, wtf, zzz'? Is that rude?"

"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying, 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.'  She's got a baseball bat and yelling, 'You want a piece of me?!!!'"


Puppy Pic of the Day:  A bunch 'o buds


JEERS to the crazy around us.  Quick summary as we head into a new week of what's going on in the world, which sadly continues to function under human management that thinks it's invincible:

International Space Station
"We're good here, thanks.
We got Skype and twitter."
Syria: Civil war has killed nearly 200,000
Iraq: ISIS wreaking havoc
Western Africa: Ebola outbreak rages
Ukraine: Russia trying to eat it
United States: Racial tension, earthquake near San Francisco, droughts, possible Jeb Bush run for presidency
Japan: Hey, raise your hand if you think Fukishima is all better now!
Iceland: Sigur Ros music causes Volcano Badabunghole to blow top.
Europe: austerity = zero percent growth
The North Pole: now called Lake Santa
Israel/Palestine: "Fuck you!" "No, fuck you!" "No, fuck you!" "No, fuck you!"
Qatar: Superyacht paint scratched by slave worker
No wonder the space station guys never seem to be in a rush to come home.

JEERS to a whole lotta chillin' goin' on.  The New Hampshire-based tree bark readers at the Old Farmers' Almanac are out with its winter forecast, and it looks like I may be forced to wear long pants:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the familiar, 223-year-old chronicler of climate, folksy advice and fun facts, is predicting a colder winter and warmer summer for much of the nation.  Published Wednesday, the New Hampshire-based almanac predicts a “super-cold” winter in the eastern two-thirds of the country. The West will remain a little bit warmer than normal.  “Colder is just almost too familiar a term,” editor Janice Stillman said. “Think of it as a refriger-nation.”
Also in the forecast: a 100% chance of idiots shouting "Global cooling!" at the sighting of the first snowflake.  (Take your heart pills, George Will---you know how excited you get.)

CHEERS to throwing the bums out.  Nine weeks after D-Day, on Aug. 25, 1944, Paris was liberated by the Allies during World War II.  However, in his famous liberation speech Charles de Gaulle barely mentioned America or its other allies.  Gee, thanks a lot.  (But please don’t remind the Republicans in Congress or they'll change the cafeteria menu back to freedom fries.)

CHEERS to raising an environmental ruckus for Jeeeeesus.  Over near my old stomping grounds, in Coshocton, Ohio, Michael Boals bought some billboards that use Bible references to make people aware of the fracking wastewater that's being stored in his town by a Texas company.  The company is suing him on grounds of misinformation and hurt fee-fees, but…

A fracking wastewater impoundment.  
A word you won't hear at a fracking
wastewater site: "Cannonball!"
[Boals] said the complaint misrepresents his statements, one of which is that injection wells "pump POISONED WATERS under the feet of America's Citizens." The second sign quotes prophecy from Revelation---on men dying from waters "made bitter."  "I think a lot of people hear the word 'injection well' and they don't realize they inject wastewater into the ground," he said … "'Bitter' speaks about something not desirable, not something you'd ever want to drink."
For their part, the company owners say the underground storage of the chemical-laced fracking sludge (the contents of which don’t have to be disclosed to regulators or the public) is perfectly safe.  When asked if they'd swear to that on a Bible, they said sure, pencil us in for around 2099.

CHEERS to beautifully warped minds.  Happy birthday to Director Tim Burton, who turns a sprightly 56 today.  Ed Wood and Beetlejuice remain two of C&J's all-time favorites, but all of his flicks are feats of imagination that boggle the Billy mind.  His upcoming flick, Big Eyes, looks promising.  But if I were stranded on the proverbial desert island and could only have one Burton DVD, it'd be no contest:

Tom Jones and Slim Whitman: together at last.


Five years ago in C&J: August 25, 2009

JEERS to staying put.  I was hoping that on this, Sean Connery's 79th birthday, the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery would be able to blast off this morning and yell in unison: "We shail into hishtory!!!"  Unfortunately, things got weird:

Discovery was slated to blast off from a seaside launch pad here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 1:36 a.m. ET Tuesday, with forecasts predicting an 80 percent chance of good launch weather.  But that nearly pristine forecast crumbled away late Monday as lightning, rain showers and thick clouds unexpectedly cropped up to prevent the launch.  Lightning struck near the launch pad several times, at times within 5 miles, while Discovery's seven astronauts were strapped into their seats hoping for liftoff.
They'll try again at 1:10 tomorrow morning.  Macaulay Culkin's birthday.  Won’t be quite the same when they all yell, "Aaaahhhhhhhhh!!!"  [8/25/14 Update: Happy 84th birthday, Sean Connery.  We hope your day is shmooth shailing.]


And just one more…

CHEERS to the "Lion of the Senate" As time goes on, fewer and fewer of us 'Muricans will remember that Ted Kennedy owned that title for much of his 47-year career there.  So I'll keep bringing it up, especially on his birthday and today's date---the five-year anniversary of his passing from brain cancer at 77.  With a little assist from President Obama, who said at Ted's funeral:

President Obama walks with Ted Kennedy at the White House
"The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the United States Senate---a man who graces nearly 1,000 laws, and who penned more than 300 laws himself."
To mark the occasion, a couple snips of vintage Ted:
Ted Kennedy at the 2008 DNC
(Not long enough.)
On the Iraq war: "There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud."
"This is the cause of my life---new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American---North, South, East, West, young, old---will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."
Obamacare is now in full effect, and I imagine that card-carrying Kossack Ted would be ecstatic over the numbers, but also impatient to improve it.  For the first 45 years of my life Ted Kennedy was always in Washington, "voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature" (Obama's words again).  He was both a battering ram and a master of jiu jitsu.  (Watch him tear into Donald Rumsfeld here.)  And also a guy you'd never turn down having a beer with.  Even though I'm not from Massachusetts, he still felt like "my" senator.  His "vim ahnd vigah" are sorely missed.  Cheers, Ted.  And say hi to your brothers---they were pretty good, too.  

Have a tolerable Monday.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?


Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

"You never get tired of Cheers and Jeers. It's like fireworks or a rainbow. Each time is like the first."
---Rich Kramer


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