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Marsh voted Indianapolis' Scrooge of the Year

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Billboards around Indianapolis depict JwJs Scrooge of the Year.

The holidays are known as a time of giving and cheer, but not everyone fits this bill in December, let alone all year long. Hence, the Scrooge Party a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the top three people or companies that socially-conscious Indianapolis loves to hate, hosted by the local social activist group, Jobs with Justice (JwJ).

The Scrooge Party started nine years ago, and invokes the idea of the ghosts of Past, Present, and Future that appear in A Christmas Carol, with the intent of showing the crotchety Ebenezer the error of his ways. JwJ’s event is structured around a goal similar to the Dickens classic.

“The idea is finding your conscience,” Allison Luthe, JwJ’s Community Organizer, explained to the roughly 70 attendees. She ruefully added, however, that their efforts have had little effect on past candidates.

Mayor Ballard, with his second consecutive nomination, is a prime example. The other two Scrooge candidates, Marsh and Hyatt, were newcomers to the party, receiving invitations because of tactics they had used over the past year to prevent their workers from unionizing.

Representatives gave short and often cheeky speeches concerning the rationale behind the selection, including personal experiences they had had with that particular Scrooge.

Eric Gomez, a front desk worker at the Hyatt, explained why the hotel was nominated, emphasizing the the specter-like awareness the management has shown to potential unionizers. “I appreciate the attention, but...,” Gomez joked, letting his sentence fade out amid the laughter from the crowd.

It was that sort of camaraderie, combined with jazzy Christmas muisc, that transformed the sterile interior of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 39 into a welcoming atmosphere — a nice change, presumably, from the Big Brother-style oppression many at the event say they've experienced at their jobs.

“Marsh creates an impression of being watched,” union member Anthony Tracy said of the supermarket chain. “They have proven they are not ashamed to break the law.”

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed charges against Marsh, citing intimidation and coercion, as well as the illegal firing of an employee who exercised his right to support a union.

If the Scrooge Party attendees are any indicator of public opinion, Marsh may be in for a rough 2011. The supermarket won the title of Scrooge of the Year with 95 percent of the votes.

Perhaps the Ghost of Customers Past will provide the nudge Marsh needs to change its ways.

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