All Things Considered
5:09 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Market Basket Employees Call For More Rallies Over Ousted CEO

Credit Ella Nilsen / NHPR

The long-running dispute in the Market Basket supermarket chain appears to be growing.

Recently the company ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, who had vocal support from Market Basket employees but had long been at odds with a faction on the board led by his cousin.

Employees rallied today outside the company’s headquarters in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, one year to the day after they held a similar rally urging the board to keep the CEO. Erin Ailworth is a business reporter for the Boston Globe and she described the rally on All Things Considered:

Organizers told me they thought there were something like 2,000 workers and their families out there, a couple of customers. They were basically all very impassioned, almost reverent as they spoke about Arthur T. Demoulas and the family culture that he has helped build, and the way they all try and support each other and stand together and how they are now using those lessons to stand up, they say, to these new CEOs, after Arthur T. was ousted in June.

Market Basket’s new CEOs had sent a letter to workers, responding to the workers’ letter calling for Arthur T’s reinstatement. They acknowledged that the company was going through a difficult transition, but they warned that those who walked off the jobs could risk those jobs. Did that seem to have any effect on the people who were at the rally today?

There were a couple of people who voiced some concern, but overwhelmingly they said that the risk was worth it. They like the company they have, they want to keep that company culture alive and well. And if the CEOs, who they referred to as “outsiders,” were going to try to come in and try and change that, they weren’t going to stand for it.

We’ve heard of a number of Market Basket stores that have said, our supply of perishables is running low because delivery trucks haven’t been coming while this rally has been going on. Are we likely to see more of that? What happens in the next few days or weeks?

They’re not going to rally over the weekend, but there was definitely a call to workers saying, come back on Monday, we’re going to do this again, we’re going to do this every day until Arthur T. comes back. There were a couple of speakers who stood up and said, listen, without the warehouse guys, this company doesn’t run, because without distribution of products, the stores don’t have anything. If [they’re] not there, then Market Basket can’t operate. They were like, this is what we have to do, and they were very clear about wanting to rally workers who didn’t show up today, and also to “take the fight to customers” and try to hit the Market Basket board in the pocketbook.

The board of Market Basket is scheduled to hold a conference call on Monday. The CEOs, in their statement, said there would be employees to take part in that. Do we know any more yet?

I know that two employees were invited. I haven’t yet heard anything about who exactly those representatives are going to be. I know that the employees in the past have felt that meetings really haven’t gotten them anywhere, and, in fact, have left them more dissatisfied.

So, no business as usual for the foreseeable future, at least for part of Market Basket?

That’s what it sounds like.

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