Grocery Chain Workers Protest To Save The CEO's Job [UPDATE]
At stake for them is someone many of them like and respect -- as well as fears of potential wage cuts, layoffs, and the end of benefits like profit sharing -- in what could be the culmination of a decades-long family feud. The company's board will reportedly consider firing CEO Arthur T. Demoulas in a meeting on Thursday, July 18, in what is seen as part of a family dispute, with two branches fighting over control and accusing each other of "drug abuse, extramarital affairs, underhanded legal tactics, and extreme greed" since 1971, according to The Boston Globe.
However, what has largely been an internal family matter has openly spilled over into the business and persuaded employees and customers to get involved.
Update July 19, 2013 5:45 AM: The efforts apparently worked. After a meeting that ran nearly 13 hours, the board did not vote to remove Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO. In a statement Demoulas said, "I am pleased with today's result. I hope to work constructively with the Board going forward...Thanks to everybody for their tremendous outpouring of support."
"The board of directors is trying to oust our CEO and he has taken extremely good care of us over the years," Bill Currier, a grocery clerk at the Portsmouth, N.H., Market Basket, said in an interview with AOL Jobs. "There's a profit-sharing plan, which is great. We get a guaranteed bonus every December and March. Genuinely, the guy is very nice. I've seen him talk to managers and he'll say, 'How's your wife?' and will know the wife's name."
"It felt like someone just ripped my heart out and ran it over," said Cindy Whelan, manager of the Epping, N.H., Market Basket to television station WMUR. Employees said at a rally, seen above, that the current CEO "always had their best interests in mind," according to the report. #saveMB and #SaveArthurT, employees on Twitter are imploring people to go to rallies at stores, some of which have seen hundreds of people show up. They were also told to sign paper petitions at stores (50,000 signatures in two days, according to Currier) or to go to the online one, which has gained nearly 43,000 signatures since July 11. Here's a Lowell Sun video of people signing the petitions:
And here's an employee's Vine video, showing attempts to get drivers to honk their horns in support:
People are posting largely supportive messages on the People of Market Basket Facebook page, including such things as "Occupy MB!" and "Save our company, save our stores!!"
A Facebook page called "About DeMoulas/Market Basket" claims that the company has no official Facebook page, Twitter account, or website.
Reportedly, industry insiders often praise Market Basket, which focused on high sales volume at low prices -- rated best in the country by Consumer Reports -- which help keep consumers happy. Industry analysts argue about whether a new CEO would shake up overly conservative management or if the action would unnecessarily alter something that already works.
Clearly, no matter what the board's decision, there will be plenty of traffic on social networks either denouncing or praising the result.
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Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman