Okay, Clampadres. I’m currently sipping moscato out of a glass that gives me a graph of the Dow-Jones Industrial Average from 1958-1968. Man, when US Steel rescinded the price boost in 1962, shit started sliding downhill. Damn. But anyway, when I’ve got this cup full of the cheapest wine money can buy, I’m in full-on Business Writing Mode. And since there’s more rumblings in the Market Basket world, I’m here to explain what’s going on to you.
Remember last week, when the CEO team of James Gooch and Felicia Thornton decided that ending the two-week boycott of Market Basket would happen by… firing everyone involved and hiring a new workforce?
The deadline was yesterday. But instead of returning to their jobs, workers were still protesting – going from “a couple guys on the corner” to “a couple more guys and an actual tent for shade, and better signs”. Customers were still staying away. The honking was constant in front of the Danvers store, where I stopped to chat up a few of the folks out front. They had heard what others had heard – something was up, and whatever was going to happen, it was going to happen soon.
I asked the young workers, all under the age of 30, if they were worried they’d lose their jobs. They all answered with a resounding “NO!” which I had a hard time hearing, because of all the godforsaken honking. Then the workers pointed out another oddity, a sign of how widespread this protest has become – a customer had been showing up every day and protesting with them. “We ask her to hang out by the road with us, but she’s more comfortable on one of the benches.”
Most major media outlets have been reporting that Arthur T Demoulas has offered to take back the CEO job for the interim, to figure out an option for selling the company. Keep in mind, he wasn’t just the former CEO – he still remains a large stakeholder, although a minority one thanks to the lawsuits of the 90s. The tanking sales because of the boycotts affects his future just like the rest of the board. But, the long-running animosity in the family seems likely too deep-seated to save the company at this point.
Not to mention the obvious embarrassment of failure for Gooch and Thornton and the rest of the board. Bringing Artie T back is just as bad as Gooch’s failures at Radio Shack and Sears. Why did they hire Gooch in the first place? Were they out of white guys that only fucked up one company? Can we talk about how fucking asinine it is that you can fuck up two companies and be hired for a third (that hadn’t yet been fucked up) as a fucking CEO, but if some poor kid flipping burgers fucks up twice society has no goddamn sympathy for him? Oh my god I cannot with this shit. Fuck.
Meanwhile at the Gloucester Crossing Market Basket, one of the remaining bakery workers was told by regional management to expect the return of all employees, managers, and customers within the next few days. The workers I spoke to in Danvers had heard the same rumor. But is it actually at all likely that they’ll just hire back a guy they fired last month?
At this point, what other choice do they have? The boycott is working. And in the end, that’s remarkable enough by itself – has a more effective boycott been carried out in America in recent history? Usually a boycott is a half-assed attempt by a small majority of workers or customers, is forgotten about in two days, and barely gets the point across. This? This is CRIPPLING.
If the board and the management had any goddamn sense, they’d reinstate the guy – for sure, this would be an ego blow because firing Arthur T failed, but it’d save the company, thousands of jobs, their supply chain, and in the end, their own pocketbooks.
Or will they take every economics and business strategy book ever written, put them in a pile on their boardroom table, douse them with Ouzo and their own tears, and light them on fire?
Stay tuned, motherfuckers.