Full time jobs at living wages

Full time jobs at living wages

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To the Editor:

This is a copy of a letter I’ve written to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

It’s hard to imagine anyone who cares more about Tisbury than planning board co-chairman Henry Stephenson. He thinks deeply about the town, and he has a fine sense of design. His Stop & Shop letter [Strategies and changes to Stop & Shop plan, April 17] to last week’s papers was right on the mark, in my view.

He proposed the most cogent and thoughtful alternative plan I’ve seen to date.

I hope you will heed his words about building size, building design, parking, congestion, and traffic, and I hope you will condition the project as he suggests.

I also want to point out something about this development that hasn’t been discussed much. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has a responsibility to promote appropriate economic development. I hope you will add to your conditions, if and when you approve a better, scaled-down version of the plan that is before you now:  that Stop & Shop will be required to provide full-time jobs with full benefits at living wages.

We need good jobs. Part-time jobs at low wages are harmful and unprincipled. Stop & Shop and its parent, Ahold, can afford decency, and we cannot afford to accept less.

John Abrams

West Tisbury


  1. Mr. Abrams,
    The premise of your letter ignores the most crucial element of your own business, South Mountain. Your company pays very high wages and benefits because the income and wealth of your customers is in no way tied to the Vineyard economy.
    With few exeptions, your very wealthy clients write their checks to your company based on income derived from enterprises elsewhere. I make no judgment about that. But surely if South Mountain only could build homes for those whose income was generated by Vineyard business, only the few Steve Berniers would be able to afford your lovely homes. And they are lovely, indeed. The purpose of any enterprise is not to create employment. Employment is, in fact, a cost of business, and its benefit is incidental.

    1. Your argument is a nonstarter. It is incorrect at its core. Island Cohousing, Jenny Lane, and Eliakim’s Way make your angry agenda sound silly.

      1. Please inform about my points and how each is incorrect at its core. Are you trying to say that the average Vineyarder can afford one of South Mountain’s high end homes? The modest ones which Mr. Abrams most generously builds (the ones you mentioned) are in large part subsidized by his wealthy off-isand clients for whom he has built high-end custom homes. Don’t get me wrong. I admire John Abrams. He is good and smart man who does very good things, and for those, he should be commended. But his analyses are not always correct.

        1. What the heck does South Mountain Company have to do with a large corporation that profits from hiring part-time help at below a living wage? BTW, Mr. Bernier may be a controversial figure, but, look at his staff, a lot of them have been there for an entire career with benefits. If he can do it why not the conglomerate that owns Stop and Shop?

          1. I can’t, and didn’t comment, about Mr. Bernier’s compensation for his employees. So your statement, “If he can do it why not the conglomerate that owns Stop and Shop?” sheds no light on the discussion unless you can substantiate the particulars of Mr. Bernier’s wages and other beneifts, which I am sure you can’t.

          2. I could, but, that’s not a subject for a public online forum. You’re also contradicting your original statement where you bring South Mountain up during a discussion on the lack of meaningful employment of another business. I also like how you automatically assumed I can’t find out or know first hand about Bernier’s employment benefits, very humorous.

          3. Well then do. Outline Mr. Bernier’s compensation and prove your point. You can’t have it both ways. And while you are at it, what is the contradiction?

          4. That’s your problem, you don’t see the contradiction. I don’t have to show you paperwork and have nothing to prove to you. I have first-hand knowledge and know people who’ve worked for him for decades. You have made it clear in this thread and others that your mind is already made up about a subject and nobody else has the resume’ to have a different opinion.

          5. Sorry, Steve, you can’t get away with that. If you make a statement claiming Mr. Bernier pays a compensation package that allows his employees a living wage for Martha’s Vineyard, logic says you first must define “living wage” and then substantiate that with numbers and data. To do otherwise is just BS. Pure and simple.

          6. So, saying that full time employees have full benefits isn’t good enough for you? I’m supposed to do a Powerpoint presentation with graphs and figures to prove it beats a 20 hour position with no benefits?
            You’re detracting from the legitimate question of what Stop and Shop means exactly by jobs. Do they mean full-time positions or do they mean, that most of the management commutes and the place is staffed with part-timers to avoid paying benefits to a full-time slot? But, you’re too busy going after Mr. Abrams and Mr. Bernier for some reason. A living wage means you’re not collecting food stamps to feed your kids after a week’s work..

          7. Talk about mixing your metaphor Steve. You really need to take a lesson on linear thinking. First, you supported the notion that Mr. Abrams introduced – which was that not paying a Vineyard “living wage” was somehow immoral. Second, you used Cronig’s as your example of proof that a supermarket on the Vineyard could and did pay that “living wage.” I merely asked you to please define what exactly is a “living wage” and how Cronig’s (your own example) conforms to that definition. What could be more straight-forward? As any 1st year law student knows, when you don’t have the facts, argue the law; when you don’t have the law, pound the table. Stop pounding the table and give some facts.

          8. I believe Stop & Shop said they are keeping all the current jobs AND adding at every level: management, full time, part time.

            Do you NOT want Stop & Shop to add jobs to the island economy?

          9. I must back “You can’t have it both ways.” If you want to impose rules on Stop & Shop, those rules must apply to all competitors. And in this case, I suspect to every business on the island.

          10. Yeah, I’m such a jerk because I don’t trust a corporation that just offered over a million to VH to push their plans through. If they’re keeping all the current jobs and adding more, that’s great. But, I think it’s a stupid thing to do, not to question what Stop and Shop says they have to offer.

          11. Don’t forget the items covered by the mitigation offer are things the MVC and island residents asked for. I think extortion on the part of the island is easily closer to the truth.

          12. I think it’s the MVC that approves the plan, not the town. The town only accepted a mitigation proposal. BTW, this is standard practice very similar to the field club and other proposed projects in front of the MVC.

      2. As a point of datum, have you checked the selling prices of even the most modest of the homes at Co-Housing? About a half million dollars as a starting point. Very few Vineyard jobs could provide a “living wage” to afford those. And no fault to Mr. Abrams. He has a fine vision, but not everyone has the means with which to achieve that vision.

        1. You have contributed exactly one half of the current 18 comments on this thread and have not mentioned Stop&Shop even once. (You do quote someone else mentioning it.) You have, however, mentioned Steve Bernier/Cronigs and John Abrams/Sound Mountain a total of 16 times, give or take. You brought up Steve Bernier in your first comment, before anyone else entered the conversation. If you think I am going to engage with you on your, uh, issues, think again.

          1. Like it or not, this is about all businesses. Tisbury can’t apply a set of rules to just one business, they must be applied equally to all. Well, Tisbury can but think of the legal bills when the town loses.

          2. You can’t apply a set of rules, but, you sure as Heck can ask them what they mean by “providing jobs” when they’re trying to push a project through. It’s called gathering facts before making a decision.

        2. Again with the John Abrams, I thought we were talking about Stop and Shop and how we should ask just what they mean with their promises that they dangle in front of us to approve their new project. Last I checked, neither Bernier, nor Abrams are planning a large project that affects VH downtown and our only year-round ferry dock, while making promises about how great it will be for everyone. If they were, I’d be asking the same questions.