Grocer and Grosser: Market Basket Stand-Off Illustrates Great Divide in Business Practices

I’m a loyal Market Basket customer. I shop at the Newburyport, Massachusetts, store at least three times a week. I know many of the employees, some of whom are old friends, some who are just so pleasant with the customers that you can’t help but like them.

I shop at Market Basket because they have the best prices around. Their meat and produce prices can’t be beat by any of the other supermarket chain stores in the area. A few weeks ago, the beloved CEO of Market Basket Arthur T. Demoulas was fired in the latest of the “seemingly never-ending soap opera of a feud with his rival cousin and shareholder Arthur S. Demoulas.” Market Basket employees are now putting their jobs on the line, to stand with Artie T.

I went to Market Basket to do some grocery shopping yesterday and found the shelves looked a little barren. As I walked through the aisles a man stopped to talk to me and informed me that warehouse workers were on strike, in effort to get the new management to bring back their boss, Artie T. Demoulas. Artie T’s employees love him. The loyal customers of Market Basket also love the way he ran “one of the most successful family owned companies in all of America,” that has been “raking in billions.” The employees are treated fairly, receive bonuses and the prices are low.

These two facets of good business practice are being thrown out the window by the new management team that has replaced Artie T, and everyone — employees and customers — knows that things are poised for a change that won’t bode well for anyone except the new management, Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, who would prefer to put more money in their own pockets than anywhere else.

On Friday, “nearly 3,000 non-unionized Market Basket employees” ranging from cashiers to baggers to managers, all of whom “depend on Market Basket paychecks, drove for miles to the company’s Tewksbury headquarters to demand the reinstatement of ousted CEO Arthur. T. Demoulas.” Their jobs are on the line and they are standing strong in protest to bring back Artie T. to the helm of the company.

The new management seems hell-bent on having their way with the supermarket chain and now in the wake of the protest, the Boston Globe reports that more heads are rolling, as “several leaders of the ongoing employee movement have been fired after worker action has stalled deliveries and resulted in limited inventory at stores.”

The Boston Globe also reports that “17 state lawmakers signed a letter urging a boycott of Market Basket stores and expressing support for employees,” although some “Market Basket employee groups have not strongly called for a customer boycott, and some employees have asked customers on social media to continue to shop until the stores are empty.”

Another employee rally is planned for today at the Tewskbury Market Basket. Having weathered more than a couple of union supermarket strikes while living in LA for 20 years, I have no intention of crossing any picket lines at my local store.

I stand with the customers and employees of Market Basket who wish to see the former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas reinstated. Clearly, he is a man who brought great success to this profitable and successful supermarket chain, where most everyone loved their job and customers flocked to for their low prices.

 

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