Arthur T. is respected by his employees. Arthur S. is not. Arthur T. cares about workers and their families. Arthur S. does not. The employees at Market Basket want the former CEO reinstated.
As a mother of a child who works as a part time employee I am proud. My college bound son has not been getting as many hours as he would have liked this summer. He has however been working his scheduled shifts and doing his job to the best of his ability, as have many of the employees. Stocking shelves is difficult when little to no food is being delivered to the stores. My son has also protested at his store on days he is not working and attended another rally. He has used car window paint to write Boycott Market Basket on the windows of his car.
As a neighbor of many full time employees I am concerned for them and their families. I know that this is not easy for them. They have supported co workers who have been fired, organized and participated in rallies and boycotts and in some cases continue doing their jobs. It is clear that they love their jobs, the customers and their former CEO.
As a customer, I support the boycott. I have not gone shopping at a Market Basket in weeks. I do have to admit that I miss the low prices, but I have brought my business to another grocery store.
As a Social Studies Teacher, I saw the opportunity to witness history and exercise my right to peacefully assemble. From what I understand, this work action is unique. First of all, these workers are not unionized and as stated before many are still working. They have rallied in support of the ousted CEO and want his return. This is not about improving working conditions at the stores or better health care. This is about wanting to work for a man who cares about his employees and customers.
So today I attended a rally with my son. As we arrived we were driving behind a bus a employees being bussed in from one of the stores. Chants of Artie T. could be heard coming form the open windows. We parked and walked to the rally location. People already there were cheering and chanting as new supporters arrived. Within in five minutes I ran into a couple I know from my younger son's baseball team. They are both full time employees of Market Basket and have worked there for over thirty years. I greeted them and they thanked me for coming out to support them. My son and I found a spot near the front, close to the impromptu stage for the speakers.
Music was playing before the rally officially began. Some songs were parodied to reflect Market Basket like Twisted Sister's Were Not Gonna Take It. Others were not like Hit the Road Jack. Occasionally there was an announcement to remind people to stay hydrated. It was after all very hot this morning. Several news helicopters circled above. News crews were stationed all around with cameras and on air talent. Police and EMTs were around to ensure the safety of everyone.
People of all ages were assembling in support of Arthur T. Many were holding signs, or were wearing shirts with slogans on them. Some people had noise makers and weren't afraid to use them. Others had giraffes with them. It seems to be that the giraffe has become their symbol as they are "sticking their necks out".
At 11:00 am, the rally started. Speakers, including local politicians, workers and customers, were introduced. Many led the crowd in chants,"WHO ARE WE?" "MARKET BASKET!" and "Artie T." For the next tow hours the crowd clapped and cheered for each speaker. One phrase that stuck with me was, "We are ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing."
I looked around and began to take it all in. I noticed a few people dressed in some sort of costume, although I had a hard time seeing clearly what they were supposed to be. I saw lots of signs from customers. Many of those said something to the effect of, "You can't fire customers. WE QUIT!" I was aware of all of the cameras, both professional and personal, recording and documenting the rally. I saw beach balls with messages on them being bounced back and forth around the crowd. I began to realize that this work action/boycott is far from over. Employees will continue to rally and support the ousted CEO Arthur T. Customers, all two million of them, will continue to boycott the stores. I was astounded by the outpouring of support for Arthur T. What I concluded was that one of two things is going to happen in the next few weeks. First the board will put aside their differences to reach some sort of compromise and reinstate Arthur T., or the company is going to lose so much money that they will have to start closing some, if not all, of the stores to avoid bankruptcy. Personally, I hope that the board is able to resolve their differences and keep the stores open. After all, at Market Basket you get more for your dollar!