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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Lessons from Market Basket

What is really important to know about this is that not only workers were behind this, but managers too; sixty-eight of seventy-one store directors were openly in support of bringing Arthur T. Demoulas back. Each store, while remaining open, asked customers to boycott. The distribution centers and warehouse workers kept the food from getting to the stores, and stores refused to accept deliveries or to stock the shelves. The board threatened to fire people, but no one went back to work. Customers pledged not to shop at Market Basket until Arthur T. Demoulas was reinstated as CEO.

And they were, collectively, able to cripple the company. The saga came to an end when Arthur T. Demoulas made an offer to buy the other half of the company. It took weeks to negotiate this deal but once it was announced, within minutes, workers were back in the warehouse and the stores. Customers cheered and were back as soon as the fresh produce hit the shelves.

We are left with one question: And how did a CEO inspire collective action by non-union employees, and effectively force the sale of a $4 billion company? This is the business story of the year.

On Thursday, September 25, the Sloan School of Management’s Institute for Work and Employment Research, the MIT Political Science Department, and Boston Review convened a diverse group of faculty and community leaders to discuss the lessons that can be drawn from these astonishing events. The event attracted a full auditorium of students, faculty, Market Basket customers, and others eager to share their thoughts and hear from others, and 649 additional participants via live streaming. We offer excerpts from the panelists below . . .

Read the full article at Boston Review


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