99% getting shafted again!


Editor’s note: Sally Kohn is a progressive activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — Here’s something you don’t see every day: The 99% demonstrating in support of the 1%. But that’s exactly what’s been happening for several weeks all around New England at Market Basket grocery stores.

Sally Kohn

In 1916, Athanasios and Efrosini Demoulas, who immigrated to the United States from Greece, opened a grocery store in Lowell, Massachusetts. Almost a century later, the family has expanded it to a chain of 71 supermarkets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

In 2008, Anthanasios and Efrosini’s grandson Arthur T. Demoulas was elected president of the Market Basket board. By all accounts, Arthur T., as he is known, presided over a very successful and happy company. Not only did Market Basket continue to expand and reap profits — generating $4 billion in revenues in 2012 — but workers have thrived as well.

Full-time clerks start at $12 an hour. Cashiers with experience can earn over $40,000 a year. And managers can easily make into the six figures.

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Keep in mind that’s in a nation where the average annual salary for grocery store cashiers is $21,370 and the national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

The company also has a generous retirement plan, matching 15% of annual salary to employee retirement funds. What’s more, workers up and down the supply chain receive good bonuses throughout the year.

All this and Market Basket is affordable for customers, with prices regularly 10% to 20% lower than competitors. The company is profitable in an industry known for low profit margins, and has given $500 million in dividends to the nine family shareholders over the past decade.

In other words, at a time when corporate executives and wealthy investors regularly try to argue that companies cannot pay workers well and be successful in generating profits, Market Basket has been an impressive and stunning example to the contrary. Market Basket has been a good company all around — until recently, when things changed.

So what happened? Well, the family board switched sides, ousted Arthur T. and installed his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas as president.

One of the first acts under Arthur S. was to distribute $250 million in profits to the nine family shareholders, what a Boston Globe editorial called “an uncharacteristic act of greed for a firm known for its generous treatment of its workers and concern for price-conscious shoppers.”

There have been other ominous signs that Arthur S. and his allies plan to push profit at all costs — at the expense of workers and the values of the company. And so in an unprecedented mobilization, managers and workers have protested at Market Baskets across New England, calling for their beloved CEO Artie T. to be reinstated.

Last week, more than 6,000 Market Basket workers and managers joined in a peaceful march outside the company’s headquarters in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. If you go to any Market Basket store around New England right now, you’re likely to find employees and even some customers holding up signs protesting the new executive and supporting the ousted Artie T. Employees are also using social media to get their message out, using hashtags like #MarketBasket.

Of course, if you go inside a Market Basket you’re not likely to find much; even the warehouse workers are on strike. These protests aren’t being organized by unions; after all, Market Basket workers aren’t unionized. They’re being organized by the employees and managers of the company.

Already, eight managers have been fired for helping lead the protests. But the protests continue. As a result, the company is reportedly losing $1 million a day.

A reporter interviewed one of the Market Basket workers at a protest. “I have a friend who works at Walmart,” she said, “and I asked her, would they ever do this for their CEO?” The woman laughed. But what has become of capitalism in America is not funny: the extreme greed of a few overrunning the best interests of everyone, including workers, communities and a healthy growing economy.

Just like the Occupy Wall Street protesters before them, the Market Basket workers are not protesting against capitalism. They’re protesting for a certain kind of capitalism, a capitalism that works for owners as well as for workers and communities. It’s the kind of capitalism that has made Market Basket a successful business for generations, the kind of capitalism that once meant shared prosperity and opportunity in America.

The Market Basket managers and cashiers and bag boys joining in protest aren’t just holding signs, they’re also holding the aspirations of the majority of Americans. Those of us concerned about the growing economic inequality in America don’t want to “eat the rich” — we simply don’t want the rich to chew up and spit out everyone else.


-FROM ME- Yet again, the inherited privileged assholes attempt to decimate one of the few businesses left that give employees a fair shake. Give people the means to educate themselves and move up the ladder, and you eliminate people that would rather sit and collect welfare. Getting rid of decent paying jobs erodes the economy and proves even more that the 1% are international and will leave this country for the next one after they have turned it into a land of poor people. 

Welfare and initiative decline, Part 2


I would like to offer the following information about myself that hopefully will shed light upon my belief system and my search for the truth in every aspect. I am willing to accept evidence from scientific sources regarding thing that I believe, and am willing to adjust my beliefs in accordance to modern scientific evidence.  I love skepticism and critical thought. As far as I am concerned, these things have given me new purpose in life and have legitimized my way of thinking and living. I do not believe in fairy stories and vet all of the information that I receive to get rid of the biased bullshit usually contained in media. I abhor drama and cannot stand assholes that love the stage more than they love truth. I am a lover of facts and evidence, and have great distaste for those making claims without any facts to back them.

I just found out that I am an Ashkenazi Jew, AND that I am most likely directly related to the Koch Bros. of Republican hate fame. Thank you Mormon ancestry database! My mother, who I have not spoken to in 21 years and who died last year, looks like a young portrait of Anne Frank! Imagine that! My grandmother has told me stories of being taken in by the rich ladies of the Chicago Jewish community! No shit, really? I do NOT agree with the Israeli agenda in Palestine and I do NOT support the acts of terrorism committed on behalf of the super-rich Jewish community that wants you to think that their terrorism is not like Palestinian terrorism  in Israel! 

My journey here begins with; can I tell Jewish jokes with impunity now? Can I complain and whine endlessly, and can I squeeze a drop of blood out of a fucking penny? Just kidding. Where does my requirement for justice lie now? What can I do on the international front? Can I use this to blog my dissent on current issues? I think that on the last question that you all know what my answer will be. I will continue on and set an example for the way thinking critically should proceed. I will continue to advocate for those trapped in theism and doubt. I still try to find out how to think regarding those who take the easy way out. Can I get an opinion? I have such animosity towards those who are given things but wallow in self pity. I have overcome so much that I naturally believe that people should do their best, but so many do not and ride the system. Please give me feedback as to what is the best answer to deal with complacency.