By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – “Empowerment” is one of those modern-day buzzwords that gets tossed around by business executives and politicians to the point where it becomes virtually meaningless, like “synergy” and “paradigm.”

But after watching the workforce and customers of Market Basket supermarkets evade a seemingly inevitable corporate transformation from a company that generously shares profits with its workers to one that stiffs them and bleeds the place dry, I think I understand empowerment a bit more clearly.

The new corporate overlords at Market Basket thought they could stifle the worker backlash with the usual methods – firing a few ringleaders, threatening the dissidents, advertising for replacement workers, and so on. But the workers’ discovery that if they stuck together and took their grievances public they could win enough support to bring business to a halt truly empowered their protest.

I’ve heard some people wondering why we don’t see this kind of thing in politics, but the fact is, we do.

Special interest groups, from organized labor and women’s rights organizations to the Chamber of Commerce, organize around an agenda that unites them and bring all their collective power to bear on the political process, electing candidates, lobbying on issues, and so on.

The successful Market Basket revolt shows that corporations are people, as Mitt Romney so famously said. So are those special interest groups.

When people organize around a common goal and hang tough, they can triumph over takeover artists and corporate lawyers.

So if you feel there’s no group that truly represents your interests, maybe you just need to figure out who else feels the same way, and empower yourselves from there.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.



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