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Friday, August 1, 2014

New Hampshire, Mass. attorneys general ask Market Basket officials to be ‘mindful’ of decisions, including terminations

From staff and wire reports

The attorneys general from New Hampshire and Massachusetts have sent a letter to the chief executive officers of Market Basket, warning them that they are watching out for the rights of the grocery chain’s workers.

“We write to you as the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states, which includes our duty to protect the rights of workers under Massachusetts and New Hampshire law. We are keenly aware of recent reports that Market Basket has terminated a number of employees and of reports today that more workers may face termination and replacement in the coming days,” states the letter signed by Attorney General Joseph Foster, of New Hampshire, and Attorney General Martha Coakley, of Massachusetts. “Your decisions of course directly impact thousands of employees and thousands of customers … Those decisions also have serious implications for the many small businesses that supply your stores or otherwise rely on a close business relationship with Market Basket for their livelihood. Please keep all of these impacted persons in mind as you chart the course for Market Basket.” ...

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The attorneys general from New Hampshire and Massachusetts have sent a letter to the chief executive officers of Market Basket, warning them that they are watching out for the rights of the grocery chain’s workers.

“We write to you as the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states, which includes our duty to protect the rights of workers under Massachusetts and New Hampshire law. We are keenly aware of recent reports that Market Basket has terminated a number of employees and of reports today that more workers may face termination and replacement in the coming days,” states the letter signed by Attorney General Joseph Foster, of New Hampshire, and Attorney General Martha Coakley, of Massachusetts. “Your decisions of course directly impact thousands of employees and thousands of customers … Those decisions also have serious implications for the many small businesses that supply your stores or otherwise rely on a close business relationship with Market Basket for their livelihood. Please keep all of these impacted persons in mind as you chart the course for Market Basket.”

The employees have been protesting and demanding the return of ousted
company president Arthur T. Demoulas, who has long been embroiled in a battle with rival cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, whose side of the family ousted Arthur T.

Market Basket’s new CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch issued a statement in response to the letter from the attorneys general:

“We have said several times that we hope sincerely that we do not discharge any employees. We want our associates back. We are focused solely on getting Market Basket stores back up and running … We respect the Attorneys General position, and would of course follow all applicable laws.”

Meanwhile, loyal Market Basket customers have launched a fundraising campaign to pay for newspaper advertisements in an effort to fight back after the embattled supermarket chain began advertising for new help Thursday.

Market Basket customers created the “Save Artie T Customer Ad” campaign on the fundraising website gofundme.com Thursday morning with a goal of raising $3,000 to take out a full-page ad in the Lowell Sun, which printed an ad from Market Basket in Thursday’s paper announcing that the company was hiring new workers and would be hosting job fairs in Andover, Mass., next week.

The fund for the ad quickly grew to nearly $13,000 by early evening as customers join workers in demanding the reinstatement of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

According to the customer campaign, the ad will let the company’s board of directors know that “we are 100 percent behind Market Basket associates, reinstating Artie T, and will not shop at Market Basket until he’s back. We are the customers of Market Basket! We cannot be fired, we QUIT!”

Any money raised beyond the goal will be donated to warehouse workers and fired associates, the campaign message said. Some donors have suggested taking out additional ads to spread their message.

Heidi Jordan, of Epping, is one of the nearly 400 customers who donated to the campaign as of Thursday afternoon.

“As customers, we appreciate and believe in Arthur T.’s philosophy of being in the ‘customer service business … we just happen to sell groceries.” We will not return until Arthur T. is back. It’s a simple message. The board needs to listen. Stop the corporate greed,” Jordan said.

The advertising war is being waged as customers continue to boycott the supermarket chain.

Meanwhile, the company’s board of directors has made no announcements of any deal to accept Arthur T.’s offer to buy the company.

The board has been meeting this week and says it’s weighing not only Arthur T.’s proposal but offers from other potential buyers as well.

The company’s new co-CEOs, Felicia Thornton and James Gooch, issued a statement Wednesday urging any employees who walked off the job, mainly those at the company’s headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass., to return to work Monday. The statement suggested those who don’t show up will be replaced by new hires.