Last Saturday Ruthie marched down to Market Basket with a roll of Scotch Tape to stick her grocery receipt from Hannaford Brothers up on the window. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. My little sister is a full blown Tea Party supporter and the last one I’d expect to support a walkout. My guess is that it has to do with the joke I heard when I went down to look at all those white strips of lost dollars decorating the Market Basket Window.
“All your life you’ve had everything you wanted.” Says Artie T
“Just about.” Says Artie S
“And you’ve never had to work a day in your life have you?” Says Artie T
“That’s true.” Says Artie S
“Well you haven’t missed a thing.” Says Artie T
Even with a bit of rich mooch envy, the bag boy knows which cousin made the actual investment in Market Basket.
If you haven’t been following the story Arthur T Demoulas (Artie T) was ousted as CEO of Market Basket, Inc. by his cousin Arthur S Demoulas (Artie S) who inherited a large block of stock in the fastest growing retailer in eastern Massachusetts. At issue was Artie T’s successful business model of fair prices for customers and a little bit of profit sharing for employees. Artie S thought investing in customers and employees was cutting into his dividends and got rid of Artie T.
People like Arthur S Demoulas believe that ownership of customers and employees is granted with stock shares. Corporations shout SOCIALISM at the idea that workers should work toward a common goal then share in the success. The problem for them is that Artie T is no Communist, he’s not even a saint, and even die hard conservatives like my sister Ruth can see that.
It’s a real Tea Party down at Market Basket not one being stage managed by populist billionaires. This was a hostile takeover even if it was orchestrated by a cousin. As soon as Artie T was ousted, loyal members of his management team were fired by courier. Corporate mercenaries were moved into his office to intimidate the surviving company management. It’s a well oiled plan that has worked well in the past but the Market Basket team refused to go along. Instead of knuckling under the employees came back with an ultimatum; they wouldn’t work for anyone but Artie T. The customers are supporting them.
The corporate goons who were put in charge, Felicia Thorton and Jim Gooch, were caught flat footed by Artie’s Army. Felicia Thornton presided over the dismantling and sale of Albertson’s. Now she’s been put in charge of a similar project at Market Basket . Jim Gooch was CEO of Radio Shack and jumped a sinking ship . Radio Shack is closing about one of every four stores partly due to Jim’s brilliant management skills.
This is a PR disaster that’s going to be taught to publicity wonks for years to come. Felicia and Jim apologized to customers in a full-page advertisement in the Boston Globe but they’re so out of touch that it turned out to be a criticism of the protesting employees; the same employees that customers are turning out to support. The only people that still think the protesting employees are black hats are sitting in an air conditioned board room watching their stocks plummet.
Artie T has made an offer to buy back Market Basket. I hope he gets control back. It just wouldn’t seem right if my liberal sister and conservative sister were agreeing over something at Thanksgiving dinner.