By Kara Komprathoum
I left my home in Massachusetts this summer to work for IWJ’s national office in Chicago. I never thought I would be missing out on a front row seat to the incredible worker organizing at the DeMoulas Family-owned supermarket chain Market Basket. I am proud that workers in New England are rising up and that a number of my friends have taken part (check out the video explaining the complicated story).
Workers are organizing to protect their good pay and benefits by urging the company’s board to reinstate the former CEO, Arthur T. DeMoulas. Workers are rallying for Arthur T. DeMoulas and reminding the region about what a responsible CEO looks like. The power they’re building is what happens when dedicated workers organize to make sure their pay and their benefits are respected and protected.
The majority of organizing and support has been online and though social media. There are a number Facebook pages dedicated to the movement and many people have all shared their stories about how Market Basket has positively impacted their lives through the benefits of being an employee, medical insurance and low-cost groceries. Market Basket workers and customers really want to see the store maintained in a values-based business that cares more about people then it does its profits.
I came to intern with IWJ this because I had an incredible amount of fondness for community organizing and the power it has for making change. To watch not only the employers of Market Basket but customers stand in solidarity for what is right is something that is inspiring.
IWJ is currently working to develop relationships with ethical employers who value employees, treat them with dignity and respect, and reflect those values in employee pay, benefits and working conditions. When I started my time at IWJ, I had thought good labor ethics probably only occurred with smaller businesses where it could be well maintained and managed. I was shocked to find that the good labor practices were happening right at home at the Market Basket chain. I was even more surprised to find that employers were so satisfied with their pay and benefits that the moment they saw a threat to this, they fought back and are still fighting the good fight.
IWJ and our allies in the region will be keeping an eye on the work of the Market Basket workers and pray for a resolution that maintains their positive working conditions, good pay and good benefits.
Kara's reflection is part of our summer series of reflections from IWJ Interns. Kara is interned with Interfaith Worker Justice at our national office in Chicago. Photo courtesy: Market Basket and Boston Herald.