Biden, other pols rally around Stop & Shop workers

Former Vice President Joe Biden got national media attention on Thursday when he spoke at a rally of striking Stop & Shop workers, saying, “This is wrong. This is morally wrong, what’s going on around this country. And I have had enough of it. I’m sick of it, and so are you.”

While many showed up itching to see “Uncle Joe,” who is considering a White House bid in 2020, the more important weight of a ticking time bomb is resting over those workers’ heads.

May 1 is the day company-sponsored health insurance will lapse.

Paul Batista, a butcher at the Stop & Shop in Allston, told WBUR about that and more this week, including that the workers, represented by union United Food & Commercial Workers, won’t make up for lost wages until the strike enters its second week, when they will begin to be compensated through a strike fund.

Batista was one of the thousands of workers who walked off the job at over 240 stores eight days ago, going on strike after negotiations over health care costs, wages, and benefits fell through. While the two sides began meeting again last weekend, the impasse still continues, affecting 31,000 employees.

The health care issue is a sticking point for workers. The proposal that sent workers out the doors from Stop & Shop included a deductible increase from $2,500 to $5,000, and an increase of $2 to $4 on health insurance premiums. Stop & Shop says it is covering 92 percent of health premiums for family coverage and 88 percent for individuals. The current arrangement is 94.3 percent of premiums for families and 91.4 percent for individuals.

Stop & Shop, which is a subsidiary of Dutch conglomerate Ahold Delhaize, says that it offered employees a pay increase, which workers say is 50 cents an hour.

Biden questioned how Ahold Delhaize could have reported more than $2 billion in profits in 2018 and received a $220 million US tax cut in 2017 — and still propose benefit cuts, according to MassLive.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, whose family once ran the Stop & Shop chain, joined Biden in providing support to the strikers. “My grandfather, Mr. Sidney in heaven — and there were people here today who knew Mr. Sidney — would be wanting to kill himself if he saw this,” she said.

With growing support from customers, many of whom have avoided crossing picket lines, striking workers seem emboldened to continue waiting. But that patience will likely be tested once health care coverage runs out.



Lawmakers have filed legislation barring teaching hospitals from conducting non-consensual pelvic exams while the patient is under the influence of anesthesia. Rep. Denise Provost, who filed one of the bills, calls the procedure a “creepy practice.” (CommonWealth)


Work is expected to resume soon for a proposed house for homeless veterans in East Dennis after a decision Wednesday by the Massachusetts Appeals Court. The court affirmed a February 2018 decision by Land Court Judge Howard Speicher that plaintiff Thomas Walsh did not have legal standing to appeal the decision that initially greenlighted the project in 2016. (Cape Cod Times)

In a 17-page summary of a winter community meeting released this week by Quincy officials, 200 Wollaston residents list their hopes for transforming their neighborhood, with ideas ranging from breweries to farmers markets, bike paths to affordable housing. City officials seek to create a special zoning district in Wollaston Center. (Patriot Ledger)

Judge Timothy Feeley ruled that Topsfield is entitled to collect property taxes from the caretakers of the Lamson House, which is one of more than two dozen properties owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and leased to curators who live rent-free in exchange for their maintenance work. (Salem News)


The report by special counsel Robert Mueller lays out “abundant evidence against President Trump,” reports the Washington Post, including “10 ‘episodes’ of potential obstruction of justice,” while concluding it was not his role to determine whether the president broke the law. Trump repeatedly tried to thwart the investigation, but mostly was unsuccessful because a succession of aides refused to carry out directives he issued to them. (Boston Globe) The report “describes a morally corrupt president who is saved from criminal prosecution on obstruction of justice charges largely because others refused to do what he asked,” says Globe columnist Joan Vennochi. Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld says House Democrats would be fools to pursue impeachment.


Opportunity zones in rural areas of the country are struggling to find investors, and some analysts are saying state and local governments are going to have to sweeten the pot with additional funding. (Governing)

Massachusetts may make a play to land the relocated headquarters of game maker Hasbro, currently based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. (Boston Globe)


Mayor Marty Walsh is facing heat from some Boston public schools parents who say the search process for a new superintendent has lacked transparency and a bigger role for parents. (Boston Herald)


Researchers at the Broad Institute have developed a risk score that uses people’s genes to show the likelihood that they will become overweight. (WBUR)

A Berkshire Eagle editorial urges opioid manufacturers to help defray the cost of addressing the opioid crisis they helped create, but barring any progress on that front the newspaper urges Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature to push through an assessment on them.

Paul Niedzwiecki, former longtime executive director of the Cape Cod Commission, has been appointed vice president of strategy and government affairs for Cape Cod Healthcare. (Cape Cod Times)


Lowell’s Latino and Cambodian communities are at odds over a proposal to change the name of Roberto Clemente Park to Pailin Park after a city in Cambodia. (Lowell Sun)

Once a week, seniors in Bridgewater meet to make art. Now, more than 30 of their artworks are on display at the Bridgewater Public Library’s Flora T. Little Gallery until the end of May. (Brockton Enterprise)


The Worcester Regional Transit Authority approves a budget for the coming fiscal year that includes no fare hikes. The budget assumes the state will provide $88 million to the state’s regional transit authorities, but that’s $2 million more than the House and governor allotted. (Telegram & Gazette)


Don’t feed the turkeys. MassWildlife Turkey Biologist Dave Scarpitti imparted that wisdom after the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on Thursday gave the public some “turkey tips,” suggestions for preventing conflicts with the birds. (Herald News)


With the fate of its casino license uncertain, Wynn Resorts donated close to $1 million to 10 mostly nonprofit organizations over the last two weeks. The Museum of Fine Arts received $500,000. (CommonWealth)


Someone has shopped a video purportedly of Robert Kraft naked inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa to The Blast, a celebrity-focused website. The story doesn’t say whether the website plans to purchase it, but attorneys for two women charged in the case have asked a judge to hold police and prosecutors in contempt because they are the only ones who have access to the video, which the judge barred from release. (Associated Press)

A Plymouth County grand jury has indicted 29-year-old Jean Jeffry Vilno on charges he forced women into prostitution out of his home and beat them if they did not meet a daily minimum number of clients or income of $500. (Brockton Enterprise)

Federal prosecutors want a three-year prison sentence for Daniel Frisiello, an autistic Beverly man who admitted to sending menacing letters to Donald Trump, Jr. and others. His lawyer says he is “uniquely ill equipped for prison” and wants him to serve house-arrest and probation. (Salem News)


Robert Sennott, former owner of the Barnstable Patriot who spent his retirement involved in philanthropic projects, has died at age 74, leaving a legacy of his work in Hyannis and beyond. (Cape Cod Times)