Louis Ferleger

Jeb Bush's Cruel Economic Prescription for Americans to Work Longer Hours Is Worthless

Americans work a lot; in fact, they spend more hours on the job than workers in many other industrialized countries. But many have wondered if working even more hours might boost economic growth rates. Simply put, does working longer hours help the economy? GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush has recently chastised American workers, saying, “People should work longer hours.” The truth is, there's not much economic justification for that view.

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The Triumph of Core American Values in the Epic Battle for a Grocery Store Chain

Over the last few years conflicts between management and labor have generated considerable press and the story lines have mostly focused on the downsizing or firing of workers.  
 
A different narrative unfolded this summer where a battle for control of a large and profitable New England grocery chain made headlines all summer as two cousins, Arthur T. Demoulas and Arthur S. Demoulas, fought over who would manage the growing chain of stores.  Managerial control of Market Basket changed in June 2014, when Arthur S. convinced the board of directors to fire his cousin, who had been managing the company, and hire a new management team.
 
This unleashed a storm of protest and a reaction by the company’s 25,000 supermarket employees—from low-level managers to workers, including store supervisors, shelf stockers, and cashiers, who walked out over the firing of their CEO, bringing the company to the verge of collapse. But why did supermarket workers and managers walk off the job in defense of their CEO?
 
The prevailing explanation about what took place at Market Basket is an It’s a Wonderful Life–type tale of compassion versus greed. The striking workers certainly embraced this dichotomy between “good” Arthur T. and “bad” Arthur S., two cousins locked in a family feud over control of the enterprise that goes back decades. As one fired warehouse manager told the Lowell Sun during the conflict, “I’ll follow Arthur T. to the end of the world.”
 
However, the emphasis on good versus bad oversimplifies the matter and masks important questions.  Why would workers voluntarily follow their former CEO to the unemployment line? How did Market Basket workers achieve their goal in an era when most collective action by labor fails?
 
Founded by Greek immigrants in 1917 as a small grocery shop in Lowell’s Acre neighborhood, Market Basket now has over seventy stores across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. How did the enterprise become so successful?  Top managers at Market Basket, led by Arthur T., seem to have recognized that value—that is, profit—is created on the shop floor, where workers’ efforts helped the company achieve a considerable competitive advantage over similar grocery enterprises.
 
Market Basket’s management team created a work environment that emphasized cooperative shop-floor relations.  Over time, workers came to identify with the goals of the company. This explains a critical difference between the Market Basket case and other labor conflicts in American history: managers and workers assumed leadership roles during the strike and ensured that store operations would cease.
 
Arthur T. recognized how important workers were to the success of the business, so the company’s organizational structure was geared toward acknowledging and rewarding them. Workers were given a stake in the company, profit sharing, and bonuses. Arthur T. knew most workers across the company by name, he knew something about their lives, and he continuously reminded them that they were key to the company’s success—these genuine personal connections contributed to the workers’ high level of effort, loyalty, and commitment.
 
Market Basket adopted a slightly different business model than most supermarkets. Instead of making its profits on high margins, Market Basket focuses on volume. As customers across New England know, their prices on everything are much lower—produce is often priced at half of what competing supermarkets charge—and as result their stores from open to close are packed, with huge lines at the checkouts. Other grocery chains, notably Shaw's/Star Market, have recently dropped their prices to compete with Market Basket, and have launched major ad campaigns to advertise their new and better deals. Yet even with these new attempts to compete on cost, Market Basket’s prices for most items are still lower.
 
The battle for Market Basket was waged over sharing the rewards of economic success and having a management team committed to building cooperative relations with its workforce. Market Basket customers seem to have recognized this, and they provided overwhelming support for the strikers and for Arthur T. Demoulas. At workers’ urging, they shopped at other, more expensive, supermarkets, often posting their receipts on Market Basket windows afterward to drive the point home.
 
In December 2014 Arthur T. finalized his purchase of the chain of grocery stores.  

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The Triumph of Core American Values in the Epic Battle for a Grocery Store Chain

Over the last few years conflicts between management and labor have generated considerable press and the story lines have mostly focused on the downsizing or firing of workers. But a different narrative unfolded this summer when a battle for control of a large and profitable New England grocery chain made headlines as two cousins, Arthur T. Demoulas and Arthur S. Demoulas, fought over who would manage the growing chain of stores. Managerial control of Market Basket changed in June 2014, when Arthur S. convinced the board of directors to fire his cousin, who had been managing the company, and hire a new management team.

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What Recovery? Across America, People in Distressed Cities and Small Towns Face Economic Catastrophe

The US economy, many believe, is turning a corner.  Maybe so, but for much of the country, what lies around the corner is a dead end.  In far too many places, high levels of unemployment still exist, and joblessness has been the norm for years, even decades. Unless we try something different, these places will once again be left behind as more prosperous areas recover.

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The Truth About Why German Elites View Southern Europeans as Inferior and Falsely Judge History

Now that Greek elections are over, many are looking to Germany for a solution to the Euro’s woes. Unfortunately, the chances that Greece’s northern neighbor will assume responsibility for the financial messes of its southern partners are slim. The reason Germany continues to tout austerity rather than growth to save the Euro lies largely in Germany’s skewed view of history and of itself, which is based on two false assumptions.

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How to End the Nightmare of Jobless America

Over the last six months, reports of the faltering U.S. jobs market have inundated the media. Last Friday's bleak numbers showed unemployment ticking up a tenth of a point, from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent. But largely absent from the discussion are the American cities where the jobs crisis is nothing new -- areas that have been experiencing an ongoing unemployment nightmare since well before the financial crash.

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