Six weeks ago my parents would do all their grocery shopping at one particular place that I would consistently make jokes about, on the stereotype of being poor quality. Six weeks ago I have no clue that the employees of said grocery store I so routinely mocked, were anything BUT poor quality in their convictions.
Market Basket, a New England based grocery store, with low prices that were difficult to match by other grocery companies and easily affordable for all income levels. However, there is always a twist, Market Basket is own by two families who have been publicly fighting for years. Currently, the company is owned by two cousins Arthur T. and Arthur S., it’s pretty much a classic tale of good vs. evil, and evil always forgets that it never wins in the end. Arthur T. is considered the “good” in this story, who owns 49% and Arthur S. is just evil without quotations and owns the rest of the company’s percentage. About five weeks ago, Arthur S. finally got the board of directors to vote Arthur T. out of CEO, meaning he still owned his part of the company, but no longer had any control over the management or future of the company. Arthur S., also got the board to vote on a $300 million payout to shareholders, which ceased construction and openings of the new stores currently in development. Along with firing Arthur T., two other top executives were fired and replaced by Arthur S.. One of the replacements was former CEO of RadioShack James Gooch, who has done outstanding things RadioShack so he was clearly the obvious choice. What happened next following the news that Arthur T. had been fired by Arthur S. was no one’s guess.
The employees of Market Basket knew that without Arthur T. their livelihood was in danger, and Arthur S. was a greedy corporate fascist who only cared about his growing wealth. So the employees responded to Arthur T. being fired with a strong, powerful “NO.” MB employees didn’t just say “no,” they took action saying “no” and stopped working in protest until Arthur T. is brought back as CEO.
Market Basket stores that were once fully stocked and parking lots so full that finding a parking spot was commonly joked about, are now empty and some are even closed. Customers have joined in on the protest by taping grocery receipts from their competitors to the doors and windows of Market Basket’s. State politicians and lawmakers have spoken out in favor of the employees and Arthur T. News of the MB protests have made the rounds on the internet keeping up the protest’s momentum, with photos on Buzzfeed, articles on ThoughtCatalog, and a song written about Market basket by the Super Secret Project going viral.
The media has made a saint out of Arthur T. and Arthur S. has dug himself a hole that only keeps getting bigger. The message of the employees wanting Arthur T. to come back to work is clear, yet sadly misleading by those who claim to be journalist following the Market Basket protest story.
The focus is solely on how “great of a guy” Arthur “Artie” T. is and how employees loved working for him. What you won’t hear being reported during this protest, is the reason the employees are so desperate to get Artie T. back is due in part of severe lack of labor laws in this country to protect employees from evil corporations.
If regulations were already in place that made it mandatory to pay a fair living wage as minimum wage, or to pay holiday pay. Maybe if it was made unlawful for companies to cut full time workers to part time in effort to avoid the cost of having to provide health benefits. If health care was considered a right of the people in the slightest way possible, and not at the hands of corporations that now been granted religious exemptions for coverage. If congress passed legislation banning companies from outsourcing jobs to countries with little to no labor standards, and allowing companies to move overseas simply to avoid paying taxes. If it was a criminal violation for corporations to hire illegal immigrants instead of it only a fine that is practically a drop in the bucket to corporations. If agriculture and domestic workers were NOT exempt from regulations of the Fair Labor Standard Act.
MAYBE, just maybe if any of that were true before Arthur T. was fired, the employees of Market Basket would of reacted differently. Those employees knew the harsh reality was working for a company without Arthur T., and the beautiful part is the fact that they stood up against it. The actions of the employees is really a glimmer of hope that the middle class is still alive and still strong. Corporations may of been ruled by the Supreme Court that they are people too, however, corporations can’t stock shelves like people, bag groceries like people, or be a customer like people are. Market Basket employees showed Arthur S. what the harsh reality looks like when greedy CEOs put profits over people.
The efforts of all these employees, in my opinion, are grossly understated by both local and national news media. This protest happening in the midst of the fast food workers fight and proposals of raising the minimum wage by both state and federal legislatures. The power of the people can still impose change if they want it bad enough. Employees of Market Basket took a $4.6 billion a year company and turned it into a vacant parking lot in five weeks. Imagine what else can be done, and accomplished by the 99% in America if we stopped letting corporations take all the power? The potential of having a strong, vibrant middle class in America is still capable, if the middle class fights back to keep it’s strength. No one can say that it can’t be done because Market Basket employees showed everyone that it can be done.