There's a revolt going on in Boston and it has nothing to do with tea. Workers at the Market Basket grocery chain's headquarters, stores and warehouse have walked off the job in protest of the board's firing of Arthur T. Demoulas, the now former president of the company.
According to reports, Mr. Demoulas (AKA Artie T.) lost his job at the family-owned business in June as a result of a dispute with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, who runs the company's board. The second Mr. Demoulas (Artie S.) wanted to find ways to extract more cash from the business for investors. About a year ago, the board approved a distribution of $300 million to shareholders. This event, along with employee protests supporting Artie T., has kept him in his job until recently.
Workers, in short, believe that of the two cousins, only one (Artie T.) has their back. Market Basket, according to RetailWire sources, is known for its long-time employees and highly loyal customer base. As workers refuse to work, many customers are staying out of the chain's 71 stores.
According to a Boston Globe report, competitive stores are doing a brisk business bolstered by shoppers who either are supporting Market Basket's workers or simply looking for items that aren't on their favorite store's shelves when they go shopping.
Deidre O'Connor, a Market Basket customer, told The Boston Globe she went to a nearby Hannaford to support the protest. Ms. O'Connor told the paper she wasn't alone.
"I've popped in and out of Hannaford, but I've never seen this Hannaford as busy as it is today. The shelves were bare," she said.
One store manager, Glenn Connors, has been with the chain for 36 years. He remained on the job while his employees were outside.
"I'm sick to my stomach over all of this," Mr. Connors told The Patriot Ledger. "My strong feeling is that if he (Artie T.) was in power, none of this would be going on,"
Support for Mr. Demoulas (Artie T.) has led to dismissals at Market Basket. The Globe reported that eight supervisors and managers at the company have been fired. The company's co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch said the "individuals who were terminated took significant actions that harmed the company and therefore compromised Market Basket's ability to be there for our customers."
In his first public statement since his termination, Mr. Demoulas said (via the Easton Patch), "The success of Market Basket is the result of two things: a business model that works and the execution of it by a dedicated and impassioned team of associates. Their fierce loyalty to the company and its customers has always been deeply valued. In the final analysis, this is not about me. It is about the people who have proven their dedication over many years and should not have lost their jobs because of it. I urge that they be reinstated in the best interest of the company and our customers."
Would you rehire Arthur T. Demoulas to run Market Basket if you were a member of the company's board?