As the Market Basket protests extended from days to weeks, Heather Kenney’s nervousness grew.
Each morning at 6 a.m., her husband, Andrew, headed to the grocery chain’s Billerica store to serve as a dairy manager in an aisle with barely anything on its shelves. Each week, he logged the minimum of 44 hours, compared to the 50 to 55 hours he had worked before the protests. And each Thursday, they both held their breaths, fearing his paycheck — their primary source of income — would not arrive.
They canceled a vacation at the beginning of August, just in case.
They postponed looking for a new home, just in case.
They put off signing their daughter, Violet, up for gymnastics class, just in case.
“God forbid, we don’t have a paycheck,” said Heather on Wednesday afternoon, hours before an agreement was reached between rivaling Demoulas cousins to give control of the company to Arthur T. Demoulas.
Less than 24 hours later, her family danced around their living room as they watched the news.
“We know we will be taken care of for as long as Market Basket is around,” said Heather, who lives in Dracut. “I can’t even describe my relief.”
During the six-week ordeal that saw Market Basket paralyzed by warring factions of the Demoulas family, many workers like Andrew Kenney continued to go about their daily duties at the region’s 71 stores. Even as they did, their families faced difficult decisions and constant anxiety over the company’s unclear future. With the rift between the Demoulas family finally settled, many people like Heather and Andrew Kenney are simply hoping for a return to the way things were beforehand.
Heather, who works one day a week as a florist, said her husband’s position at Market Basket allowed her to stay at home after their daughter was born two years ago.
And then there were the bonuses and benefits. Her entire pregnancy was covered by the company’s health insurance plan, she said.
In the face of the economic recession, their family did not just get by; it thrived.
It was the fear of losing all of that — the salary, benefits, and security — that plagued Heather throughout the unrest at Market Basket. Now, after a summer of uncertainty and cutbacks, she believes her life will go back to normal.
And now, Heather can sign her daughter up for that gymnastics class.
“I’m going to e-mail them about that today,” she said.Catherine Cloutier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @cmcloutier.