Last week marked the end of a successful two-month strike for Market Basket employees. The New England grocery store chain did not boycott consumers in order to obtain a better wage. Instead, they merely wanted their cherished former CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, reinstated with the company. On Friday, roughly 2,500 sign-waving employees marched outside the headquarters of Market Basket, in Tewksbury. They demanded that their former boss return to his position as CEO. Despite the fact that they could have lost their jobs, the workers continued their tri-state strike. You may be wondering how the situation deteriorated to the point where it was. Why was Arthur T. Demoulas fired in the first place? Furthermore, what led to the situation where the Company Reinstates Arthur T Demoulas as CEO after Workers Strike?
The Complete Details:
According to major news outlets, Market Basket relieved the former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas of his position due to his conflict with Arthur S. Demoulas, his cousin and rival. The two held a lengthy dispute that could only be resolved through the departure of one of them. At the end of June, Arthur S. Demoulas and the board members who are loyal to him fired the former CEO. As a result, seven top executives also departed the family-owned company.
From that moment on, things quickly deteriorated for the company. Dissent seeped down the chain of command. In approximately one month’s time, 25,000 non-union Market Basket workers went on strike in protest of the company’s actions. The company lost approximately $10 million each day that the boycott continued. That equates to a lot of lost revenue considering the company’s annual revenue of $4.6 billion.
During the protests this summer, workers and customers attended rallies to reinstate the former CEO. The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire even stepped in on behalf of “public interest.” They attempted to broker a deal between the company’s factions to ensure the employees return to work. The company’s new CEO continued to threaten workers with termination. To prevent this from happening, shareholders began negotiations with Arthur T. Demoulas in hopes of a reinstatement. On August 28, the board finally reached an agreement. The entire company was sold back to the former CEO for 1.5 billion dollars which automatically made him CEO once more.
The Tri-state Strikes:
On July, 18, thousands of Market Basket employees from New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts started walking off the job. They decided to picket on the street. The worker strikes meant that store shelves became empty because stock personnel, managers, cashiers and drivers. These workers decided they wouldn’t return to work until their benevolent CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, be reinstated. Even customers joined the movement to support the workers’ cause.
Eventually, the strike went viral becoming a huge story on the news. Major family-owned corporations usually deal with internal squabbles away from the public eye. So, why exactly did the conflict between the Demoulas family become so newsworthy? One of the reasons was probably due to the fact that Market Basket employees are not unionized. This means that they could effectively be fired for protesting.
“To have an internal uprising of just about everyone, without a union, is very unusual in American industry.” – David Lewin, professor at the University of California
Luckily, all of these protests and weeks of turmoil ultimately paid off. The CEO was restored to the company. Market Basket declared that, from here on out, the management team will also handle day-to-day operations. Arthur T. Demoulas was extremely touched by the support he received from his employees. By vouching for him, employees also invested in the company’s future. Arthur T. Demoulas is recognized through the industry as a benevolent employer. It seems like everything worked out in the end.
“Words cannot express how much I appreciate each and every one of you (..) You are simply the best.” – Demoulas during a rally Thursday