6 Market Basket Deadlines Come and Gone

On Monday, the two sides of the Demoulas family said they would push to reach a resolution to the Market Basket standoff by the end of the week. The Boston Globe reported Friday that former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas has submitted a “final” offer to buy out the grocery company from rival shareholders.

The company’s board is expected to meet soon.

With Market Basket reportedly in a dire financial situation, and with a deafening amount of silence coming out of the chain the past few days after weeks of noise, it may well be that we’re on the brink of closure.

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Then again, deadlines and ultimatums have come and gone in the Market Basket saga a few times already, from multiple sides. They’ve had varying degrees of success. As we inch toward a possible resolution, here’s a look at past attempts from just about everybody to make something happen, and how they’ve worked out.

1. Demand: Bring back Arthur T.

Delivered by: Employees

Delivered to: CEOs, board of directors

Deadline: July 17

Details: In the week leading up to the pivotal July 18 employee action, Market Basket workers submitted a written demand to co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch, intended to reach the board of directors, demanding a response by the end of the day on July 17 to their previous demand for the reinstatement of Arthur T. Demoulas. What they got was a letter from the CEOs saying the matter would be discussed at a board meeting the next week. The letter also told employees that if they “abandon” their jobs, they would be permanently replaced. Employees said that wasn’t good enough and the next day staged a rally drawing more than 2,500 to company headquarters, with most warehouse workers and office employees effectively leaving their posts.

Effect: Employees didn’t get what they wanted, but they certainly followed through on the threat. Business at the chain, if you haven’t heard, hasn’t been too hot.

2. Demand: Stay on the job, or you’ll be replaced.

Delivered by: CEOs

Delivered to: Employees

Deadline: N/A; applied to planned worker action on July 18

Details: This is really a companion to demand No. 1 above. Headquarters and warehouse employees were told they’d be replaced if they staged a walkout on July 17. The next day, employees did just that. A couple days later, eight employees—thought to be at the head of the protest movement—were fired by courier.

Effect: Hundreds of employees left their jobs. (Not all did—a few headquarters employees still remain.) A few were fired, but in future weeks that seemed to mostly be a galvanizing force for protesters. The CEOs followed through to an extent on the ultimatum, but it didn’t get protesters back to work.

3. Demand: Submit a bid.

Delivered by: Board of directors

Delivered to: Arthur T. and family, apparently

Deadline: Unclear; acknowledged July 25

Details: On July 25, two days after Arthur T. Demoulas submitted a bid to buy out rival shareholders, the company’s board of directors issued a statement acknowledging they had received the offer and saying they would discuss it. The statement read in part: “...the offer was received prior to the deadline for ‘B’ shareholders (ed.: that’s Arthur T.’s side) to present a proposal.” Requests for further info on this deadline were not returned at the time. Since, Arthur T.’s side has submitted other bids, so if there was a deadline, it was essentially one for an opening volley.

Effect: Well, a proposal was presented, so I guess it worked. Weird deadline, that one.

4. Demand: Get back to work or you’ll be replaced.

Delivered by: CEOs

Delivered to: Employees

Deadline: August 4

Details: As July moved toward August, the CEOs told the employees who left their positions they were needed back at work on Monday, August 4. In anticipation that some would not return, they company held job fairs that week.

Effect: Employees didn’t return to work. However, ahead of that deadline, some workers did receive notes saying they would not be paid for August if they didn’t return. So to some extent, the CEOs followed through. Still, the issuing of essentially the same ultimatum a couple weeks later (see below) pretty much renders this one moot.

5. Demand: Pay us.

Delivered by: Upset vendor

Delivered to: CEOs

Deadline: ASAP; delivered August 12

Details: After not receiving payments from Market Basket for a couple of weeks, and after several days of not receiving calls or emails in response to their inquiries, local vendor Boston Sword & Tuna sends a letter to co-CEO Felicia Thornton on August 12 threatening legal action if bills are not paid soon.

Effect: It worked, but maybe too well. Thornton quickly got back to the company and CEO Tim Malley received payment a few days later. The problem: They were overpaid by $400,000, leading Malley to openly question management and cut off business with the chain. Several other vendors have also cut off their business and are openly calling for the return of Arthur T. Demoulas.

6. Demand: Get back to work or you’ll be replaced. Again.

Delivered by: CEOs

Delivered to: Employees

Deadline: August 15

Details: After the August 4 deadline to return to work was more or less blown off by warehouse and headquarters workers, the CEOs issued a “last request” via FedEx for workers to return on Friday, August 15. Gov. Deval Patrick also asked employees to heed this call.

Effect: Employees said nope again. The company has not yet commented on what that means. A Boston Globe report suggests the CEOs agreed a few days later not fire anybody as negotiations continue. The way the letter with the August 15 deadline was written suggested workers would have been considered to have resigned their positions, not terminated, if they didn’t return. Let’s say this: The deadline didn’t work, and its effects haven’t yet been felt. Bonus: A separate demand issued by the CEOs to store managers the same week asked that they take down protest signs from stores. That one—which had no date attached to it—hasn’t worked out either.