It’s hard not to be happy that the Market Basket board approved Arthur T. Demoulas’ buyout of the supermarket company. Not that I shop there; there isn’t one near me. But my sister does, and praises its bargains. What makes a mere onlooker happy is the sense that for once the little guy won, that is, a bunch of little guys, the employees standing in solidarity without a union and refusing to bend to moneyed corporate power. Refusing even though it put their jobs in jeopardy and, for six weeks, affected their family income.
This really does seem to be a victory for time-honored (too often ignored) corporate values of appreciating the employee, sharing profits through better benefits, and reinvesting in the company rather than having all profits go back to the shareholders. It is a triumph for the notion that CEO’s can really care about the ordinary folks who work for them.
The Boston Globe just posted video of the pickup in activity in the warehouse. The mood is celebratory, though for some weary protesters this resolution seems to have come just in time. It’s unclear, notwithstanding their dedication to CEO Artie T, how much longer they could have held out. Beyond the grit and determination they have all shown, employees and customers alike now have to have patience. According to the Globe, it will take seven to ten days until Market Basket shelves are 80 percent full, and it will take two weeks to be back to 100 percent.
It may be that some shoppers have found other places to buy their groceries, but I suspect some newcomers will try Market Basket for the first time. The outstanding question is whether Artie T’s purchase of the “other side’s” 50.5 percent leaves him with debt service so large it renders impossible the low low prices for shoppers and generous employee benefits. There may well have to be adjustments there. For the immediate future, at least there are 25,000 workers who will have a boss who seems to really care about them and understand that they are the core of the company’s success. Can you imagine Bank of America or American Airlines (substitute your own favorite ice-water-in-the-veins corporation) dealing with customers and employees as Market Basket has?
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