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UFCW Local 1459 represents about 2,000 workers in the Berkshires and Western Massachusetts.

Biz Briefs: Stop & Shop Workers Still Without Contract

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UFCW planning Chicopee rally

Area UFCW locals are hosting a rally at the Stop & Shop in Chicopee on Wednesday, March 20, as the grocery and union representatives have made little headway in contract negotiations.  
UFCW Local 1459, representing about 2,000 workers in the Berkshires and Western Massachusetts, voted a week ago to authorize a strike if the contract talks continue to bog down. Local 1459's vote is in accord with four other UFCW locals that together represent some 30,000 workers in the grocery chain's New England stores. 
Local 1459 President Tyrone Housey said in a video message on Friday that the grocer made some economic package adjustments over two days of talks last week but that "It's still not satisfactory to us." 
The union is objecting mainly to pensions and benefit changes. No negotiations are scheduled this week. 

Scholarships available

The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce is offering scholarships for higher education, additional career training, or job certification ranging from $500 to $1,000.
"We are honored to announce this scholarship, which reflects the chamber's  commitment to the individuals that make our businesses and nonprofits so great," said Maria Rundle, SBCC board member and chair of the Scholarship Committee. "We want to give our members a chance to appreciate some of the people they work with and who volunteer in our nonprofits by giving them a step up in their education or job training goals."
Nominees will be asked to submit a short application and awards will be publicly announced at SBCC's Business After Hours meeting on June 13 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. The nominee must be over 18 or in their senior year of high school, reside in one of the towns that the chamber serves, and must have a connection to one of the chamber member businesses or organizations. To make a nomination: 413-528-4284 or

Positive business outlook

Berkshire County business owners have weighed in after the New Year’s hangover. Overall, confidence is on the up and up and continues to remain positive. The most recent Berkshire BCI, which is distributed and analyzed by Berkshire Money Management, is 60.3, up slightly from the last survey’s 58.6, signaling continued optimism among Berkshire County businesses and organization leaders. However, 37 percent of respondents say that they are expecting a recession by 2020, while nationally, the impending recession seems more imminent.   To view the full results of the latest Berkshire Business Confidence Index, click here.

Local optimism regarding a potential recession did not bleed into another survey question regarding the ability to obtain financing. Berkshire business owners expressed their concerns about being unable to access "financing on reasonable terms." This question, which over the last six BCI’s has been one of the most positive components, dropped 8 points. This is possibly because interest rates have risen since the last survey (July 2018).

Not surprisingly, hiring also came up. The number of respondents with modest-to-substantial hiring plans jumped from 27 percent to 51 percent as many businesses altered their answers from the last survey from "no change" in their employment levels to an intention of "modest hiring" in the coming months. To address this challenge, Berkshire Money Management in partnership with the Associated Industries of Massachusetts is hosting "Finders Keepers: Hiring and Retaining Skilled Employees," a free panel discussion, on Thursday, April 11, at 3:30 p.m., at the Model Farm (BMM offices) at 161 Main Street in Dalton. For more information and/or to register, visit and click "Upcoming Events."


Transportation conference in Worcester

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will hold its eighth annual Transportation Innovation Conference with presentations and exhibits on a wide-range of topics including connected and autonomous vehicles, environmental aspects of transportation, mobility options, construction materials, pavements, safety, technology, asset management, wayfinding and the Baker-Polito Administration’s Complete Streets Funding Program.
The conference will be held on April 9 and 10 at the DCU Center in Worcester, and is designed to showcase the latest technologies and equipment and to gather together transportation officials, advocates, members of the private sector and municipal officials to discuss trends in the industry, programs and initiatives. For more information or to register:

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'The Sunshine Boys': 'All the Men & Women Merely Players'

By Michael S. GoldbergeriBerkshires Film Critic

I wish that I were reviewing one of the half-dozen movies certain to be made when this pox upon our house is no more. But until that glorious return to normality has us resuming all the simple joys of life we take for granted, like going to the movies, I'll be retro-reviewing and thereby sharing with you the films that I've come to treasure over the years, most of which can probably be retrieved from one of the movie streaming services. It is my fondest hope that I've barely put a dent into this trove when they let the likes of me back into the Bijou.

I can't review Herbert Ross' perfect film adaptation of Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys" (1975) without thinking about and acknowledging all that I learned about comedy from my college dormmate Tom Clinton Jr., now Dr. Thomas Clinton. Forever taking a comedy writer's correspondence course — it seemed he was on the "Characterization" chapter for at least two semesters — he would regularly pop into my room to regale me of the latest bit of shtick he had gleaned from his zealously dedicated study of what tickles the funny bone.
"So, these two guys meet on the street. Guy One says to Guy Two, 'Didn't I meet you in Chicago?'
Guy Two says, 'I've never been in Chicago.'
Guy One says, 'Y'know, come to think of it, I've never been in Chicago, either.'
'Yeah,' concludes Guy Two, 'It must have been two other guys.'"
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