Monday, July 21, 2014

Boycott Market Basket

I'm not usually one for boycotting anything. Boycotts are usually some phony political movement that's designed to make everyone feel like they're accomplishing...something.

But in this case, I am boycotting Market Basket, I am supporting the workers and the ousted president, Arthur T. Demoulas.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Market Basket and the story behind what has gotten us to this point, please read here.

A quick synopsis:

Market Basket is now the company name of a regional chain of supermarkets originating in Lowell, Massachusetts. Formerly known as Demoulas, named after its founder Arthur Demoulas, Market Basket has grown into one of the largest privately owned grocery chains in the nation. Known for their low prices, Market Basket has become a reliable place to shop without having to worry about any games, membership cards or gotcha deals.

There are two heirs to the company's fortunes, Arthur S. Demoulas and Arthur T. Demoulas. (Yes, they are named after the founder) Arthur T. is beloved by long time employees, some with over 50 years with the company. Arthur S. is all about profits and many believe he is trying to sell the company.

For quite some time, Arthur S. has been trying to oust Arthur T. Last year, the board of directors narrowly voted to keep Arthur T. as president to the joy of the many long time employees of the company. This year, however, the tables turned and Arthur T. was finally deposed.Several long time employees walked out after Arthur T. was fired in protest.

The company brought in two CEOs to replace Arthur T., Jim Gooch  former CEO of Radio Shack, and Felcia Thornton, former CEO of Knowledge Universe to replace Arthur T.

Here's Forbes Magazine's take on Gooch, by the way. Calling his loss Radio Shack's biggest gain as the company took a huge nosedive in 2012 while Gooch was at the helm.

Thornton resigned from Knowledge Universe in June 2011 for personal reasons, according to reports.

Sounds like a real dynamic duo.

Workers protested the firing and subsequently staged a protest outside the company's headquarters in Tewksbury, MA. As a result, deliveries were stifled any many stores ran out of product.

Gooch and Thornton released the following statement in advance of the rally:

View image on Twitter

Predictably, Gooch and Thornton reacted by firing long time warehouse leader Dean Joyce and district manager Tom Trainor and predictably, more firings will follow.


What is going on here is amazing. For the first time I can recall on this scale, workers are loyal to a man who they view as an honest leader with their best interests at heart. You don't see or hear that too often. These people are willing to lose their jobs rather than sit by and let Arthur S. Demoulas destroy what Arthur T. has built.

Gooch and Thornton are doing the dirty work putting themselves in the crosshairs of public disdain when the real villain in this story is none other than Arthur S. Demoulas.

Arthur S. Demoulas.
You are a very bad man Arthur S
If Arthur S. was the sole proprietor of Market Basket and saw fit to setup the company to be sold, that's certainly his prerogative, which is obviously the end game now that he has full control of the company. But what he's done is not only steamroll his cousin, he's ignored the backbone of the very empire he oversees, the employees and chosen to push them aside in order to fatten his wallet.

I have no doubt that both Arthur S. and Arthur T. are very wealthy and could live comfortably for the rest of their lives right now if the whole thing collapsed.

That's not the point.

Arthur T. is all about taking care of his employees and his customers.

Arthur T. Demoulas
Arthur t. Demoulas
Arthur S. is all about greed.

This is the essential issue that is plaguing this nation right now. For too long, too many companies have seen profit and a fat balance sheet as more important than a happy work force and happy customers. The American worker has been cast aside as a spare part that must be replaced once a certain salary or age has been reached.

But it's not just greedy businessmen who are guilty, workers for their own part have also contributed to the demise of employment in America. For far too long, workers have demanded more from employers and expect to do less. there are far too many workers who perform well below their capabilities and feel they are owed something without earning anything.

This is disgraceful and has dragged our country down.

There needs to be a balance and Arthur T. Demoulas obviously found that. He not only created an environment where customers were happy with his stores, he created an environment where his employees are so loyal they are willing to walk away from their jobs for him.

This issue has galvanized people where now even local politicians are supporting boycotting the stores. It doesn't matter whether you are liberal or conservative, this fight is about what's right. And what's right is boycotting Market Basket.

What wins this fight is not Arthur S. or Arthur T. Demoulas, the board of directors, the CEOs or even the Market Basket employees.

What wins this fight is the customer.

By not setting foot inside Market Basket you have the power to send a message to Arthur S. Demoulas and his greedy board of directors, you send a message to the rest of corporate America that you will not be bullied and you will not stand by and let a wrong like what has happened to Arthur T. Demoulas and his employees happen.

Quote from Market Basket CEOs Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton: "If you choose to abandon your job or refuse to perform your job requirements, you will leave us no choice but to permanently replace you."

Memo to the new CEOs and the board of directors of Market Basket: "You have chosen to fire Arthur T. Demoulas and now have decided to terminate several employees, you have left us no choice but to permanently replace you."

Send a message, boycott Market Basket.