City Matters: Market Basket workers' outlook challenges the skeptics among us
That’s because we in the news business see so much insincerity — the politician who promises to fight for us, the defense lawyer who insists on his client’s innocence, the silver-tongued PR type who whitewashes his company’s nefarious actions.
Sincerity thrives here. It’s as loud as the car horns that toot their support for sign-toting workers.
“What we had here with Artie T. running the place was truly family,” Lutsko said. “We’re not asking anything for ourselves, just (return) Artie T. and everyone else who was unjustly fired.”
She’s read notices from the new CEOs, telling everyone to be at work or face the consequences. And she’s seen the cars, occupied by what the workers call goons, drive by and videotape the crowd.
“I’m not worried, I’m not scared because once Artie does come back, we’ll get our jobs back,” said Deltrecco, a mother of two. Deltrecco, who went full time six years ago, said she earns $12.50 an hour. She gets two weeks paid vacation and a flexibility that basically lets her set her work schedule around day care.
“The way I look at it, we already lost the best part of our jobs when they fired Artie T,” he said.
They returned to a store bereft of green produce. An empty meat cooler sat under the sign “Best selection of well-trimmed meats.” Shelves had dry goods and milk, but bakery stocks were depleted.
A customer or two moved through one of the three registers that were open. Clerks passed out free bread that was going out of date.
Louis, who is 40 and lives in Manchester, said he makes more than the $12.15 an hour he was making when he left Shaw’s Supermarkets for Market Basket nearly two years ago.
The Market Basket wage seems to stack up well against others, at least for long-timers. Here’s a rundown of average hourly Manchester wages for 2013 — the latest figures available from the state Department of Employment Security.
• Meat cutter. Lutsko’s $19 compares to $15.69.
• Food prep. Louis’ “more than $12.15” compares to $13.24.
• Cashier. Two-year employee Jayson Craig said he makes $9. That compares to an average of $9.42.
Out on the sidewalk, Market Basket workers waved signs and discussed the latest news: Boston media speculate that the company is losing $10 million a day; “scabs” are working at the warehouse; the board blames Arthur T. for the upheaval.
Mark Hayward’s City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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