Throughout the summer of 2014, a corporate food fight played out in dozens of communities impacting tens of thousands of workers and the economies of three states. When the faction of the Market Basket board headed by Arthur S. Demoulas fired his cousin and arch-rival Arthur T. Demoulas as long-time CEO of the successful supermarket chain, it set off a firestorm that sparked one of most unique corporate dramas in American history. It’s what the New York Times called “the last stand for the middle class.”
Within days of hearing the news that their beloved “Artie T” had been axed, several high-ranking managers resigned, others were fired. Truckers stopped trucking. Warehouses stopped supplying. Vendors stopped shipping. Customers stopped shopping. Employees picketed in parking lots. Practically overnight, the $4 billion dollar business, with 71 stores scattered across three states, ground to halt. Governors from two states were called in to negotiate a settlement.
Throughout the entire summer, workers, managers and customers were galvanized. They didn’t want more money, better benefits or work conditions. They only wanted back Arthur T, a quiet leader who operated on simple, long-held family values he learned from his grandfather who started the business nearly 100 years ago – treat your workers well, give customers “more for their dollar”, and you’ll build the American dream.
What unfolded for the next seven weeks erupted into a major news story that gripped New England and churned across the country. It’s the saga of a Greek immigrant who lived the American dream and the nightmare of his descendants, with fundamentally different views of how to run a successful business, feuding for control. It’s a new take on the struggle for non-union workers and loyal customers to get a fair shake in a world where the 1% seems to pull all the strings. It is a distinctly 21st century drama where ideals, personalities, passions, old tactics and new tools turn conventional ideas about labor, management and consumers on its head.
Only one film crew was on the ground throughout the summer, following the fear, anger, hope and courage of a most unlikely cast of characters. By consistently being the folks that “kept showing up”, we have gained unique trust and access to people who are central to the Market Basket saga.
FOOD FIGHT is the story of the battle to save Market Basket, and about the power of ordinary, passionate people to rewrite corporate history.
Jay Childs, Director: Jay is principal of JBC Film Group and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, was at the rallies, press conferences, in the aisles and at the protesters’ encampment all summer long. He has been producing thoughtful programs for television and corporate clients for more than two decades. His most recent documentaries, Communities and Consequences and Caring for Mo, have been seen on public television and in theatres, and have won numerous awards at festivals in New England and beyond.
Melissa Paly, Producer: A principal at CrossCurrent Communications, Melissa has been producing documentary video about challenging environmental, health and social issues for broadcast, education, outreach, training and marketing for more than 20 years. She has produced two films, Livable Landscapes and Front Wards, Back Wards, in partnership with ITVS that have aired on public television around the country. Her work has won many awards at festivals in the US and abroad.
Tom Bennet, Producer & Editor: Tom Bennett is a Boston area entrepreneur and filmmaker. Tom began as a screenwriter, spending 5 years under the tutelage of Hollywood writer Mitch Klebanoff, (Beverly Hills Ninja, Oceans 11). Tom quickly moved from writing to directing, producing, shooting and developing his own short form and feature length content. Tom has written a number of feature length screenplays, produced commercials, a wide variety of short form content and concept reels for television with his production partners in New York. When he’s not involved in film, Tom is the co-founder and COO of Eldarion, of one of the top web application development agencies in the world.