'Shut It Down! Bring Them Down!'
Jul 21, 2014 03:47PM ● Published by Bill Gilman
Gallery: Market Basket Protest and Empty Stores [11 Images] Click any image to expand.
A crowd estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000 gathered in the parking lot of Stadium Plaza (10 Main Street) on Monday for another rally/protest. Employees were emboldened by the presence of family, friends and elected officials, who pledged complete support for their efforts to stand up to the Board of Directors and force the re-hiring of deposed CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.
Tom Trainor, fired over the weekend as a distribution supervisor after 41 years with the company, declared open warfare and called on workers to increase the pressure on the Board of Directors, Gooch and Thornton.
"We are asking you for two things -- shut it down and bring them down!" he shouted. "We have them on the ropes. We are in control of this company! 25,000 employees and two million customers against seven of them!
"We need your help to deliver the knockout blow!"
Employees at the rally did not seem concerned about the possibility for more firings. In fact, the symbol for the employee rebellion has become a giraffe, which could be spotted on large buttons on thousands of employees on Monday. According to one employee, the giraffe stands for the fact that since Arthur T. DeMoulas has stuck his neck out for the workers for all these years, now they are willing to stick their neck out for him.
Several of the recently fired employees spoke at the rally, as did State Legislators, who exhorted the workers to keep fighting until they are truly heard.
“You are what is good about America,” said state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, D-Lowell. “We are going to stand with you, we are going to fight with you.”
Donoghue stood with state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, a candidate for State Treasurer. Finegold began a petition among state legislators, pledging support to the workers and calling for a full-blown boycott of Market Basket until Arthur T. is re-instated as CEO.
The petition, signed by 37 legislators as of Monday afternoon, reads as follows:
The leaders of the revolt have now called on the workers to spread the protests to each individual store and do what they can (within the law) to disrupt business and encourage the boycott.
We, the undersigned, stand today with the thousands of Market Basket employees who have walked out of their jobs in protest of the firing of their beloved CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.
These employees know that Market Basket has been the chosen supermarket of so many people looking to save money on groceries. They know that the leadership of Arthur T. Demoulas is the reason Market Basket has been able to keep prices low while delivering quality products to mainly underserved areas. The current actions of the board and officers is one motivated by corporate greed and will only serve to destroy the legacy the Demoulas family has worked generations to establish.
We ask that all of our colleagues join with us across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and boycott Market Basket and stand with it’s employees and with the standard of delivering low priced, quality groceries that Arthur T. Demoulas has set.
“You go back to your stores. Shut it down,” said former facilities and operations supervisor Steve Paulenka, to enthusiastic applause and cheers.
The 71 Market Basket stores in New England are missing more than employees this week. With few, if any, delivery trucks departing the DeMoulas Warehouse on East Street, stores are running out of products, especially fresh produce, seafood and chicken.
The DeMoulas/Market Basket saga goes back two decades, with cousins Arthur S Demoulas and Arthur T. Demoulas struggling in the board room and the court room for control of the company started by their grandfather.
In June, Arthur S. gained enough votes on the Board of Directors to oust Arthur T. as CEO and president. That lit the fuse under the employees, who had been openly campaigning for Arthur T for the past year.
The employee alliance includes stock boys and cashiers, senior managers and everyone in between on the corporate ladder.
According to a report in the Boston Globe, the workers, who are not unionized, have received an offer of free legal services in their battle from Teamsters union Local 25 in Charlestown. In addition, that union has pledged their 11,000 to participate in the boycott, according to the report.