Something pretty remarkable is happening in Massachusetts. One would have to be living under a rock to have missed the latest chapter in the Demoulas/Market Basket Drama.
Long time CEO, Artie T. Demoulas was removed from his position last month by a vindictive cousin and a group of family members who are not content to be millionaires for essentially doing nothing. No..they want more. They did not like what they termed "reckless spending" by Artie T. Of course, this reckless spending consisted of savings for customers as well as compensation that keeps many employees there for decades.
When the vindictive cousin, Artie S and he family gained control of the board and ousted Artie T....they hired their two "board consultants" to be CEO's. Jimmy G ooch ( who essentially ruined Radio Shack) and Felicia Thornton ( who managed to sem-ruin Shaws..and specializes in liquidating assets) have been tone deaf at a minimum. They fired 8 high level MB employees over the weekend after Friday's protests and rallies and have threatened to continue the firings until the employees of MB learn their place, I guess.
What Thornton, G ooch and the rest of the MB board did not count on was the level of loyalty from the front line employees on up to management. They underestimated the level of loyalty from the customers and community as well.
Yesterday, the employees of Market Basket held a rally in Tewksbury Ma. I was there and was blown away by the thousands of people in attendance and their passion. Not just employees, mind you, but customers, vendors, members of the community and politicians. Yesterday's rally was twice as big as the one held on Friday. The movement on social media is bigger and growing by the hour. The story has gone national.
What bears watching is that this type of movement is somewhat unprecedented. This is not an organized labor movement..in fact the irony is that MB employees are a rarity in the industry..but with Artie T. at the helm, employees were never concerned about whether or not they were treated fairly. There is no blueprint for what is going on but it is something that will no doubt be covered in future business school courses.
Thornton and G ooch underestimated the people of the New England area, of Massachusetts and most specifically the Merrimack Valley area. This area has a long and rich history of standing up for worker rights and for beloved CEO's. Arthur S. should have know better.
It will be interesting to see what the final analysis brings. Will the BOD reinstate Artie T as CEO ( this is the only demand of the protestors)..or will this really be the beginning of the end of the Market Basket chain as we know it.
I hope the board does the right thing when they meet on Friday.
It is not down in any map...trueplaces never are...." ( Melville)