The Market Basket conflict, now in its third week, is escalating to a dangerous point. The rallies, though peaceful, are getting bigger and more boisterous. Tensions are building among vendors. Based on what happens in other labor conflicts, we can be sure that nerves are fraying and anxieties mounting within the 25,000 families whose jobs may now be at risk and who are not getting a badly needed paycheck.
Apparently, even within the fractious Demoulas family, new disagreements are surfacing. One cousin has even suggested that it is time to bring back Arthur T. TWEET Clearly, family members have both a financial and a reputational interest in getting this resolved. Nothing less than the family name and legacy are at stake. For generations, the Demoulas name has signified quality at prices that working families could afford. The supermarket chain’s loyal customer base is not the least of what it stands to lose.
It is time for sensible heads on the board of directors to take the only action that will bring back customers, save the business and associates’ jobs, and, most of all, avoid further escalation that could result in long-lasting damage to the communities involved.
The path to resolution is clear. Many voices, including my own, have outlined it. The board of directors should accept Arthur T. Demoulas’s proposal to have him and his team lead the process of bringing employees and customers back starting now, while due diligence and negotiations on his buyout offer proceed.
The independent members of the board of directors have a responsibility to act, not in the interests of one or another faction of the Demoulas family, but in the best interests of the company. It is time for them to do their job. If the owners don’t accept their decision, they should resign.
It is also time for leaders across New England to use their good offices to get this conflict resolved. It has gone beyond the point of a private family feud or even a parent company-employee dispute. It has and will affect the welfare, perhaps even the safety, of our communities. It would not be unprecedented, for example, for these protests to veer suddenly and violently out of control. Another kind of safety, food security, also hangs in the balance, especially in those communities where Market Basket is the only affordable option for families — if not the only option. So let’s all bring our voices to bear on the parties by saying enough is enough.
End this impasse now, in the only viable way possible in the interests of the owners, employees, customers, vendors and communities at large. Isn’t that what leadership is all about?
More from Cognoscenti:
- July 29, 2014: How Market Basket Can Right Its Course
- July 23, 2014: In Market Basket Protests, Three Lessons For Corporate America