Board Meeting Tomorrow, 5/23

There is a Board meeting tomorrow morning at the Pru. We have not been able to get our hands on the agenda or hear of any items that might be on it. We also don’t know whether or not ATD or any other members of our management team will attend.

Stay tuned during the morning and rest assured that when we hear anything we will post it right away.

We can know for certain two things: If they don’t go, ASD will be ticked off and if they do go, ASD will be ticked off…It’s the nature of the beast.

As always, if they do go we wish them the best. We’ll be right alongside them as they fight the good fight.

Apathy

ap·a·thy
ˈapəTHē
noun
lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.
“widespread apathy among students”
synonyms: indifference, lack of interest, lack of enthusiasm, lack of concern, unconcern, uninterestedness, unresponsiveness, impassivity, dispassion, lethargy, languor, ennui

Apathy; It has been mentioned on this page through comments and we could not agree more. There is another Board meeting this coming Friday and while we still have not heard what transpired at the April meeting we can only surmise that the puppet A and A/B directors took more steps towards the dismantling of our company. Mark Lemieux, Store Director of Londonderry, started an online petition with change.org to get as many signatories as possible to NOT change our profit sharing and also cast a vote of no confidence in the A/B directors and ask them to resign. As of this writing we are up to a little over 2,300 signatures. To us this is not just apathy, it is pathetic.

We know you are weary of this fight, we all are after 10 long months of fighting an uphill battle. You may not think we have accomplished anything but we have. We saved ATD and other top management by rallying last July, We had a part in El-Hage resigning from the Board and don’t think for one minute that the only reason the Board hasn’t reacted and fired ATD and others to this point is because the Board is very concerned what the fall out would be among associates. Don’t forget that these guys are dismantling the company we love but they are also aware of their fiduciary responsibilities and how their reputations would be tarnished should our company completely crumble as we are sure it would if our top management were to be fired.

So that brings us to those of you that have, for reasons known only to you, decided that this isn’t your fight, that you will let others do your fighting, that fighting for ATD and the culture of OUR company isn’t worth losing your job over, that things “really won’t change much”, that maybe we could do better with someone else investing your profit sharing, that you have a _________ (insert mortgage, family, tuition etc…) and the excuses go on and on and on.

We want you to know when ATD and top management are gone, your profit sharing is gone, your bonuses are gone, and finally your company is gone. We know that you apathetic people who think this will all go away and that we will all live happily ever after will be the first ones to scream (and scream the loudest) “what happened? how could this have happened?, why didn’t someone do something?” Our answer to you would be this: “we tried and we gave it our all, where were you?”

It’s not too late to join or rejoin our fight. We need every single associate to stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we march in lockstep to Save Market Basket. ATD could walk away from all of this tomorrow without a care in the world yet he is fighting tooth and nail for us. He doesn’t want nor need the money. He is putting up with all of this BS because of you and me and the other 25,000 associates, yes even those that won’t fight for themselves. Sign the petition and tell everyone you know to sign it. It’s not too late yet, but it may be too late soon. We would rather not say we told you so.

http://www.change.org/petitions/keith-cowan-leave-our-profit-sharing-plan-alone-and-resign-from-our-board-of-directors?recruiter=58394275&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_invitation

Change to Arthur T. Demoulas’ Role as President?

We are not sure when this change was made, but we recently noticed that on their website of lies and deception, the Board has made a change in what they perceive ATD’s responsibilities to be. In earlier dates on the FAQs page, among his roles was being in charge of employee compensation. Reading yesterday, we noticed that this has been removed. Continue Reading

Mr. Marsden’s Letter to Keith Cowan

Mr. Marsden has written a letter to Keith Cowan regarding the false statements and slanderous language used by the Board towards him when they tried to explain why he was fired as a trustee of the Profit Sharing Plan. As you would expect his words are direct, to the point and powerful.

See the letter here

Petition

We have just received a link to a petition issuing a vote of “No Confidence” to the Independent Board members along with a call for them to resign. Please sign the petition here and in the space where it asks why it is important to you write in your store number along with anything else you might want to add.

Sue Dufresne’s Letter to the Associates

On the Board’s recent update they mentioned how Don Mulligan and Sue Dufresne refused their invitation to join in the process of engaging Evercore and thus becoming a part of the process to hire them as the firm who would take over our profit sharing plan. We could only speculate why Don and Sue did not go to the meeting and now Sue has answered this question for us in a very clear and powerful way. Her letter speaks to all that we are at Market Basket: fiercely protective of the company and tenacious as hell!

Thank you Sue for fighting alongside ATD and us each and every day.

Read Sue’s letter here

Insider Trading at Evercore

Evercore, the company that the Board has chosen to watch over and invest OUR money had one of their Senior Managers plead guilty to insider trading just a month ago. The link below is the indictment of Frank Perkins Hixon Jr, a Senior Manager at Evercore. He plead guilty to insider trading on April 2, 2014. Apparently Evercore has a difficult time watching their own managers and we are supposed to feel all warm and cozy that they are going to watch our money.

This begs the question, did the Investment Committee under Eric Gebaide’s chairmanship do any research at all? A simple Google search turned this up. Maybe this is the only company he could get or maybe he has ties there in some way. Whatever the case, leave our money right where it is, reinstate Mr. Marsden and Mr. Sullivan since they were vindicated by a court of any wrong doing with the investment that lost $46 million. You guys (Cowan, Weiner and Gebaide) come into our company and immediately set out to fix whats not broken and in the past 10 months have done nothing but anger and alienate our associates. Get your hands out of our wallets! A simple secret ballot of our associates would tell you what we feel about our profit sharing plan so instead of alienating us perhaps you should step down from your high horse, check your arrogance at the door, and ask us. While you are at it you could ask us how we feel about ATD and our company management.

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-21/ex-evercore-managing-director-accused-of-insider-trading.html

Board Site Update

The Board updated its website today and we would like to take this chance to interpret what they had to say.

They say:

Does the Company intend to continue to contribute to the profit sharing plan?

Yes, the Company will continue to contribute a portion of its profits to the Plan. In 2013, the Board voted unanimously to make a contribution to the profit sharing plan at a level consistent with the preceding years. Additionally, in an effort to further reward associates and to improve the performance of the Plan, the Investment Committee of the Board began a process to select a nationally recognized investment advisor which could improve investment performance and professionally manage the funds.

We interpret:

When they state that a portion of profits will be contributed, they are laying the groundwork for a much reduced amount and they will be ready to blame Arthur T. Demoulas for it. Profits will, in all likelihood, be down this year as a result of the 4% sale and the Board will no doubt be happy to pin their lessened contribution on that.

They also changed the wording  to “could” improve from the near guarantee of better performance that had previously been on this question.  They state to “improve” the performance of the plan.  We say that 6.7% average annual return is a pretty damn good return, slow and steady wins the race. We are not in Las Vegas, this is our future so we can retire in comfort after years of hard work and we would rather not gamble with our future.

They say:

Will the hiring of a new investment advisory firm to manage the profit sharing plan reduce the benefits of the plan’s participants?

The Investment Committee of the Board, including Eric Gebaide, Ron Weiner and Bill Shea, (former Chairman of the Board), unanimously decided to select one financial advisor on behalf of the Company’s Profit Sharing Plan, with the objective of selecting a professional investment advisory firm to better manage the Company’s Profit Share Plan for the benefit of the Associates. As part of that process, several members of management (Don Mulligan and Sue Dufresne) were invited to meet the firm and learn of their approach, ask questions, and help the committee engage them. The Investment Committee’s guiding principles, as agreed by all of its members and shared with Mr. Mulligan and Ms. Dufresne, are to move carefully, but deliberately towards a state of the art profit sharing plan where professionals are responsible for protecting and investing the funds, and employees are able to learn how their funds can best be invested. Unfortunately, both Mr. Mulligan and Ms. Dufresne refused the invitation.

We interpret:

Immediately they place Bill Shea in the mix to portray him as being a part of this scheme. We can be sure that Mr. Shea did in fact vote for the best firm to manage the money, but only after it was voted by the majority to alter the plan by firing the trustees and putting it in the hands of Wall Street. They go on to state that Don Mulligan and Sue Dufresne were invited to be a part of the process but ultimately they refused the invitation. This is a well crafted paragraph by the highly paid Kekst people…they had Don and Sue no matter what they did in this matter. Had they accepted the invitation, they would be a party to the dismantling of our Plan; by refusing it they were being difficult obstructionists who could have constructively helped the future of the plan. In short, the Board is saying Don and Sue betrayed us. Never mind the fact that we have worked with these individuals for decades and that we know full well that they have our backs in this battle, they are trying to create division among us by painting them as villains. They also show very clever language when they talk about a “state of the art” plan where “professionals are responsible for protecting” the funds. Imagine how good it will feel to have a hot-shot Wall Street player “protecting” your retirement! Why would you want Mr. Marsden and ATD protecting you when you could have a person you’ve never met doing it? Lastly they mention that you will be able to learn how your funds can be invested. Ask any of your friends who has a retirement plan with different funds to choose from just how great it is. You get to read tons of prospectuses and you get to divide which funds your cash goes to…20% to Small Cap, 15% to Emerging Markets, 20% Large Cap, 20% Large Cap Value….etc, etc. After a career where your money is taken care of and your retirement nest egg is assured, it will now be on you to figure out how to ride the market. Don’t worry about the fact that your coworker might return 25% on her plan next year while you will lose 4% because you will forget to move your money out of the fund which has too much exposure to BP when they have a catastrophe. You will enjoy the liberty afforded you by being able to spend countless hours after work or on your weekends figuring out how to allot your money. Thank you Board for this State of the Art plan!  This is another example of the Board trying to fix something that isn’t broken so they can shift liability from themselves to you.

Oh, one other thing: when you complain to whoever it is that you get to call and complain to about how your plan tanked they will empathize with you and then tell you that it was your own decision which led you to those investments.

In our opinion this is the first step to what will inevitably be changing our plan from a profit sharing plan where the company contributes 15-20% of your gross earnings into a 401k plan where you have to contribute funds yourself out of your net earnings and the company “may or may not” match some of those funds. Our plan is a true benefit, an extension of our compensation that we don’t have to worry about and we know will be there when we retire. Hardship withdrawals will become loans that must be paid back, is this what we want done with OUR money?

If you haven’t received a copy of ATD’s letter ask your manager for one and read it carefully. One thing in this company is certain, ATD does not lie to us and he has OUR best interests at heart, the A/B Directors have only their own and the A shareholders interests at heart.