Union brewing at local Starbucks shops | Running local news into the ground | Frightening poll numbers | School construction costs surge | About Contrarian Boston |
A wave of school construction budget blowouts ahead?
If the $38.5 million cost overrun on the new Lowell High School is any indication, we could very well be in for a rough ride.
City and school officials in Lowell are scrambling to deal with the budget blowout, which has pushed the overall cost of building the new high school past the $381 million mark.
Suffolk Construction, the contractor on the job, has blamed a surge in the prices of construction materials amid ongoing, pandemic-related supply chain woes.
Curtainwall and drywall have jumped 38 percent and 24 percent respectively, while steel has busted through the roof with a nearly 140 percent increase, the Lowell Sun reports.
Wellesley was forced to boost the construction budget for the new Hunnewell Elementary School by $2 million late last year, pushing the cost to nearly $55 million.
So, what are we looking at for 2022?
Well, Ashland school officials are grappling with a $1 million-plus increase on plans for a new elementary school, pushing the cost past the $69 million mark, according to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which helps pay for school construction.
The MSBA is now waiting to see what happens when the bids come in on the other 15 school construction projects across the state slated to move ahead this year.
Frothy brew: Starbucks union takes shape in Allston, Brookline
Baristas at two local Starbucks are about to find out the fate of their bid to join a reenergized labor movement.
On Monday morning, the National Labor Relations Board, via Zoom, will count votes of workers from Starbucks shops at 1304 Commonwealth Ave. in Allston and 277 Harvard St. in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner. The outcome will decide whether they get to join the new Workers United union, which is organizing baristas across the country.
The vote follows the decision by workers at a Back Bay Starbucks (443 Boylston St.) to file a petition with the NLRB to unionize.
Overall, Starbucks workers at least 11 shops in Massachusetts and 200 across the country are seeking to form unions, WGBH reports.
There’s clearly a shift happening in workplaces around the country, especially in high hustle/low reward workplaces like Starbucks and Amazon. You need look no further than the story of the former Amazon supervisor at a Staten Island warehouse, who, fired from his job two years ago, beat the odds to form the homegrown, 8,000-plus strong Amazon Labor Union.
Workers at the Boylston Street Starbucks say they want the ability to take tips from customers on their credit cards, but contend the company won’t budge. Apparently, the CEO’s 39 percent raise hasn’t gone over well given the circumstances.
“Our company asks everything from us, and when we ask for something in return, Starbucks does not seem to hear,” reads a letter from baristas at the Back Bay coffee shop to Howard Schultz, the company’s founder, who just came back as CEO.
File under: Wake up and smell the coffee.
What’s killing local news? Vulture capitalist newspaper chains
Yes, that’s you Gannett, owner of dozens of weekly and daily papers across the state.
Gannett – whose CEO, Mike Reed, pocketed a hefty $767,000 bonus last year – is ending the print run of “at least” 19 different weeklies, while combining nine others into four surviving papers, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports.
Good job, Mike!
Of the weeklies that are left, only Cambridge, Provincetown and Plymouth will have reporters dedicated to covering the news in their communities, the story notes, citing stats gathered by Dan Kennedy, whose Media Nation blog is a must read on what’s happening in local news.
That means what’s left of Gannett weeklies in booming and increasingly affluent inner suburbs like Newton and Somerville won’t have their own reporters. These are communities with high civic engagement among some segments, with growing numbers of residents working in high-paying, knowledge-intensive fields like tech and life sciences.
If Gannett can’t make a go of it here in the local news business, why bother trying to make it work anywhere?
There are a growing number of local, independent news startups across the state, so someone will fill the void, and maybe even make a few dollars as well.
But it clearly won’t be the dunderheads at Gannett, who are too busy squeezing the last few dollars out of an old business model to care much about the gaping news – and civic - void they are leaving behind.
Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue, part two?
By David Van Voorhis/aka Stat Man
Here’s a very disturbing stat: 42.7 percent. That’s what both Trump and Biden are at right now in a rolling average of head-to-head polls aggregated by the website Race to the White House. Although Trump is highly unpopular with many Americans, Biden is as well, due to what many perceive as his poor handling of the Afghanistan pullout and increasing gas prices and inflation nationwide. Biden's approval rating sits at a measly 41.8% according to FiveThirtyEight, and to compound matters, the Electoral College's current bias towards Republicans relative to the popular vote is also a major concern. Although it's still early, all of this could spell trouble for Biden in 2024.
As the company slashes reporting jobs across Massachusetts and the nation, its CEO is hauling in the big bucks for doing less. From the BBJ: “Here's how much newspaper chain Gannett paid its CEO in 2021.”
Unspeakable barbarity: “50 dead in train station attack as Russian troops regroup in the east” Washington Post
As J. Geils would say, love stinks: “Massachusetts woman wooed into losing $2.5M in growing online romance scam” Boston Herald
What is Contrarian Boston?
I have fielded emails over the past couple weeks asking what Contrarian Boston is about.
Here’s a link to our mission statement – you can find it in the “about” section.
For a more prosaic, nuts-and-bolts description, read on.
An online newsletter, Contrarian Boston publishes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In Contrarian Boston you’ll find analysis of the day’s news, and original reporting as well.
Our focus is:
· Politics and all levels of governance, good and bad, with an emphasis on state and local, with some national mixed in;
· Economic growth and business, especially real estate, housing and new development projects;
· The media and why it does what it does;
· Education, from school board spats to the doings of multibillion-dollar university endowments;
· And whatever else catches our fancy.