An estimated 12,000 Market Basket employees rallied in Tewksbury today, as workers continue to put pressure on the company’s Board of Directors to reinstate ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.
Dave Mansur is the produce manager for the Concord Market Basket on Fort Eddy Road.
He was at today’s rally and joins All Things Considered to talk about what happened.
Can you set the scene of what was happening down in Tewksbury?
“It was like all the other rallies. It was just thousands and thousands of people. We all get there early, we all pile in. Everybody’s got their shirts on, 'Market Basket Strong.' We’re all there for a cause, we’re all there for one purpose. That’s what we want. We’re not asking for more money, we’re not asking for more benefits, we’re not asking for anything like that. We’re want A.T.D. back. Bring him back. It wasn’t broken when he was here. How can they justify doing that, other than greed and family hatred? That’s what we all want to know.”
For those outside the Market Basket situation, can you explain why you and other workers have been fighting for the return of Arthur T. Demoulas?
“He’s done right by all of us. When the man comes into the store, all of a sudden all the managers are like, ‘Mr. D’s here.’ We all run around, we break down our departments because we want to impress him. But he comes in and he’s taking the time and he’ll shake part-timers’ hands and he’ll read their name tags and he’ll be like, ‘Oh, you’ve been here six years? Thank you.’”
There’s been some confusion about which employees are working and which aren’t, which are protesting, which are striking. Can you clear that up for us? Are you and the other employees still working?
“If you’re in the store cleaning or taking care of customers when they come in, those people are getting paid. If we choose to go outside, it’s on our own time.”
So you’re still going to work and maintaining your part of the store as well as you can?
“Pretty much. Right now, I’m basically…it’s me and my assistant that’s maintaining the department. With no money coming in, it’s hard to schedule…I’ve got like 30 part-time kids working for me. And now I can’t schedule them because there’s not much to do.”
The company set a deadline of this past Monday for employees to return to work. There are job fairs going on this week. What’s been the response to that?
“Not too many people are showing up to the job fairs, at least from the store people themselves. I know nobody from my store is going in to do any of that because we’re not going to take another person’s job. It’s not what we do. It’s not how we do it.”
There have been several of these mass rallies before. What’s different about what happened today and what happens next?
“I don’t know. All I know is I’m going to go in tomorrow and keep standing tall and hoping that he comes back. It’s really in the shareholders' and the board's hands now. I think that’s what killing everybody. None of us know. We can’t get into the board room. We can’t get into that meeting. For me, that’s my biggest fear it’s just the not knowing that’s killing me.”
One recent article called this protest 'the last stand of the middle class.' Do you agree with this? Do you think this has become somehow bigger than just Market Basket?
“For me, it’s for the culture of Market Basket, everything that it stands for. For the middle class people to be able to save that amount of money…I mean, I shop there, too. My parents shop there, too. I don’t think it’s a last stand. I can tell you that everybody’s going to keep fighting until he comes back.”