Market Basket workers rally in support of ex-CEO

 

The Associated Press

More than 2,000 employees and supporters rallied at the Market Basket supermarket chain headquarters Friday demanding reinstatement of the company's former chief executive.

Organizers said they hope to shut down the family-owned chain's warehouse and deliveries to its 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine to put pressure on the board that fired Arthur T. Demoulas last month. They said more rallies are planned and urged workers to stand together.

"We can shut this company down, and that is the only way we're going to gain the attention of the board of directors," said grocery supervisor Tom Trainor, one of about a dozen speakers at the rally. "There is one way to make a greedy person listen — in his wallet," he said.

Many warehouse workers took sick days or vacation time Friday. Some other employees attended the rally in their work attire, and said they planned to go back to work afterward.

The new CEOs, Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, had said in a letter to workers Thursday that those who don't do their jobs could be fired.

Workers had sent a letter with a 4:30 p.m. Thursday deadline for rehiring Demoulas, who lost his job after a long-running battle with a cousin for control.

Thornton and Gooch said that power rests with the board, which plans a telephone conference Monday and a meeting July 25. Employee representatives were invited.

Arthur T. Demoulas' supporters say the new leadership represents corporate greed and a profit-taking approach that threatens employees' work conditions and the bargains customers are used to.

The new executives said the company's direction hasn't changed.

"We want to reinforce our commitment to Market Basket customers, associates, benefit plans, bonus programs, profit sharing and new stores," they said Thursday.

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