The Market Basket Saga: Thoughts

The Market Basket saga is coming to a close (hopefully): Arthur T. Demoulas will buy out the 50.5% of the company that he does not own, using financing from a private equity firm and his sisters.  Soon (if not now), he will take over as interim CEO while the deal is finalised.

Approximately five weeks after the first employees walked off the job, the massive protests succeeded.  For any aspiring activists out there, here’s why the protests succeeded where others failed:

Artie T. bought the place at a cost of almost $2 billion.  Hey, when you have a moneybags guy on your side, it’s easier to win.  But the Basketeers also won because they had a very simple, defined goal that was feasible and practical: reinstate the ousted CEO.  This wasn’t Occupy Wall Street’s “forgive all debt,” which would bring about worldwide economic ruin; this was asking to bring things back to the way they had been in June of 2014.

The nature of the protests had a very strong nexus with the demand.  “We are not going to work and we are going to encourage a boycott until you bring back our boss” is really logical: it took away the ability of the Arthur S. Demoulas side of the family to make a quick sale to a Cerberus or whomever. In fact, the chain was so crippled by boycotts that the only choice was to sell or go out of business. That is fundamentally different from Occupy Wall Street’s mantra of taking over a park until Wall Street did, um, something. The Wall Streeters didn’t care and didn’t take them seriously, but small businesses nearby were hurt and cities had to spend a bunch of money on the protestors.

That brings me to my final point: the Basketeers didn’t engage in needlessly divisive tactics.  It was the most adorable protest imaginable, with a giraffe mascot, employees who put up signs saying “Please excuse our appearance while we get our CEO back” (reminiscent of  12 year old girls who didn’t do the dishes because they were trying to find the neighbour’s dog), and strikers who took pride in being the admirable, stand-up employees that Arthur T. Demoulas taught them to be.  My friends from all over the country, who had never heard of Market Basket, were supporting the employees and the boycotting customers.

 

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