Organizing an employee protest movement at a company with 25,000 non-unionized employees at 71 locations spread across three states is no small feat. Unless, of course, you have social media behind you.
Market Basket employees’ attempts to reinstate ousted leader Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO have been fueled by passion, for sure. But social media has played – and continues to play – a significant role.
Last summer, Market Basket employees launched a Facebook page to spread word that there were efforts underway to oust then-CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. The Save Market Basket Facebook page has since become a de facto online headquarters for employees and customers sympathetic to “Artie T,’’ whose demise became a reality last month.
The page has had a solid following for the better part of a year, but as the story got national attention, the following quickly swelled. On Friday, 25,000 Facebook users had “liked’’ the page. Five days later, that number has more than doubled, to nearly 60,000, and counting.
‘Save Market Basket’ has become the authoritative voice of the movement, delivering calls to action for employees and customers, including urging participation in several rallies over the past month. The page has also been a clearinghouse for news, such as the firings last weekend of several management-level employees.
‘Save Market Basket’ isn’t the protest movement’s only presence on Facebook. The SAVE ARTIE T & SAVE MARKET BASKET!! group on Facebook has employed a more free-for-all approach. There, more than 16,000 employees, customers, and supporters have been posting photos of protests and empty shelves, memes in support of their effort, and even fake movie trailers. The group’s membership stood at only 3,500 last weekend.
Videos posted to the ‘SAVE ARTIE T & SAVE MARKET BASKET!!’ group that some perceive as showing employees acting in an intimidating manner at protest sites have been controversial among the movement’s own members. (A Market Basket employee was arrested Monday after an incident involving people employees think are working for Market Basket headquarters.)
The Save Market Basket page has also advocated for protesting workers to mind their behavior.
Social media efforts have expanded well beyond the confines of Facebook.
Twitter and Instagram have been flooded with messages and images, some in support of efforts and some simply documenting the effects of employee action. The #MarketBasket,#MarketBasketStrong, and #SaveMarketBasket hashtags (among others) have gained traction from both workers and customers alike. Here’s a recent sampling:
Meanwhile, The Boston Globe built this interactive map showing social media images of the Market Basket protests as they happen.
The protesters’ efforts online stand in stark contrast to the company’s, which only this week launched its own website, WBUR reports.