A Win for Arthur T. Demoulas and Market Basket

Market Basket Newburyport, MA
Market Basket Newburyport, MA

Last night when the news broke here in Massachusetts that the workers and former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas had prevailed and deal was finally signed for Arthur T. Demoulas to by the beleaguered Market Basket company from his rival cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, I was among the many loyal customers who cheered the news. Twitter was abuzz with the news and many customers like myself chimed in to spread the news.

If you don’t live in a community where there is a Market Basket grocery store, chances are you hadn’t been paying much attention to the Market Basket employees strike and all the many implications it carried for entire communities and the corporation itself. The employee strike was not your typical union supermarket workers strike, in fact Market Basket workers are not union workers. Instead of striking for better wages and working conditions, these inspiring workers at Market Basket were striking to have their beloved former boss, Arthur T. Demoulas reinstalled as CEO after an upset within the deeply divided Demoulas family sided with Arthur S. Demoulas in a take-over of the company.

Arthur T. Demoulas, noted for his generosity towards his employees and care for the members of the communities that have Market Basket stores, was ousted as CEO. The writing was on the wall and the employees knew it. Under the new management the employees faced losing benefits and shoppers faced rising prices as the new co-CEO’s Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, were tasked with squeezing more profits out of the company that already boasted multi-billion dollar profits.

After a grueling summer of protests that grew to include customer boycotts in every Market Basket community, support from local politicians, and vendor boycotts, last night a deal was finally struck for Arthur T. Demoulas to buy out the company and regain control. At time it seemed that they would never reach a deal, and this victory has been a hard-won trial in a case of the little people over corporate greed. Again what makes this victory and business deal so different from other supermarket worker strikes is the scope of the victory. The little people won… How often do we hear these stories of the little people winning in a time when rich and poor are so deeply defined and divided in America? Rarely…

This morning just a few short “hours after reaching an agreement to buy the company, the restored chief of New England’s Market Basket supermarket chain celebrated with workers in a rally at headquarters Thursday, saying he loved them and appreciated their efforts in helping him regain control.”

Seeing all of you here today is like seeing a little piece of heaven on earth,” Arthur T. Demoulas told several hundred workers Thursday morning in Tewksbury, some of whom shouted “We love you” and “Welcome back” during a speech that sometimes resembled a political victory speech, and often took on the tones of a rock concert.

“I am in awe of what you have all accomplished,” he said. […]

“The public watched in awe and admiration because you empowered others to seek change,” he said.

We’re all in awe of what they accomplished and corporations need to take heed from the message sent from this win forged by the will of the little people. Jason Desjardins, 22 year Front End Manager
of Concord Store 34, had this to say on Facebook today:

Last night there was a shot heard around the world. That shot was the middle class winning out over corporate greed. Last night we as a family made history. An unprecedented act of solidarity, one that will go down as history and be taught for a long time to come. We honestly could not have done it without every member of this family from; the Market Basket 8, to the warehouse workers, the truck drivers, all employees at store level and you the most amazing customers in the world. We, Market Basket are back because of you the great customer who took up this fight and by standing side by side with us we have won, we have made history and we have OUR company and CEO back . For this, your unflinching resolve we are eternally grateful. We stood as ONE and we never wavered in our fight and as ONE we came out on top. My only hope is that what we have accomplished over the past six weeks is merely the start of a change in America and that we the people understand that we are what makes this country great. Together we showed America and the world the PEOPLE still have a voice and still can win against Corporate America, against corporate bullying and against corporate greed. We the People are more powerful than ever before. Thank you again and look forward to seeing every one of you! We are Market Basket and We are Family!
Jason Desjardins
22 Proud Years
Front End Manager
Concord Store 34

Desjardins words echo my own, the people do still have a voice, and they can still win against corporate greed. The Market Basket win is beacon of light of workers around the country and an omen for corporate greed mongers… We will fight for better management, we will fight for better wages, and we will not back down.

I visited my local Market Basket store this afternoon,ess than 24 hours after the news had broken about the deal. There were jubilant workers at the main entrance greeting customers, welcoming them back. As I stood outside speaking with them, customers came and went, all with smiles on their faces. Market Basket is a vital part of our community.

I walked into the store, rounded the corner to the dairy department and I welled up with tears. The shelves were half stocked, there were employees busily filling in with whatever shipments were rolling in; it felt like coming home. I knew where to find everything I needed and I was happy to find some of my favorite foods I have gone without since the standoff started some six weeks ago.

A few of my favorite things at Market Basket, Newburyport

A few of my favorite things at Market Basket, Newburyport

My favorite Kuner Southwestern Black Beans went into my cart, followed by a jar of Santa Clara Tomatillo Salsa. On to the bakery department, I found the barkery workers had been hard at work baking bread and other pastries. In my cart went a loaf of La Brea Olive and Herb Filone. I stepped up to the pastry case and requested the large cannoli that clearly was waiting to come with me.

In the produce section I found fresh halved cataloupes and pineapples discounted and grabbed one of each and put them into my cart. Along my way through the store I stopped to say hello to workers who I have come to know over the years shopping there. Each one grateful to see loyal customers like myself back in the store on the first day since the deal was signed.

It will take some time for Market Basket to be fully stocked again and the deal will take a few weeks to fully close, but the legend of how some 25,000 workers and countless customers brought a corporation to its knees will be a legend forever. Social justice has prevailed and the lessons learned from this will rock the corporate world and empower workers to stand up and be counted as the valuable components they are in successful companies like Market Basket.

More For Your Dollar at Market Basket

More For Your Dollar at Market Basket

The terms of the Market Basket deal include an agreed price of over $1.6 billion, which the NY Times notes “puts the value of the chain at about $3.2 billion, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement, who was not authorized to speak about the terms of the transaction.”

That valuation may seem high given that the business has ground to a halt, but it reflects optimism that the employees can rebuild it.

Under the helm of Arthur T. Demoulas who returned to the company today “with day-to-day operational authority,” I have no doubt that the employees and customers will bring Market Basket back to success.

Felicia Thornton and James Gooch the current CEO’s, hired by Arthur S. Demoulas to replace Arthur T. Demoulas back in June, remain as CEO’s until the deal is completed in the weeks to come.

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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