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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Protest signs and protests remain at Market Basket, despite company directive

HUDSON – The glass doors at the Market Basket in Hudson remained full of customer receipts Monday, some yellowed from the sun, despite a directive from management to remove all signs that don’t relate to pricing or operations.

Store manager Don Dryer was manning a cash register. Not only did employees of the Lowell Road supermarket leave their signs in place, but they added more. ...

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HUDSON – The glass doors at the Market Basket in Hudson remained full of customer receipts Monday, some yellowed from the sun, despite a directive from management to remove all signs that don’t relate to pricing or operations.

Store manager Don Dryer was manning a cash register. Not only did employees of the Lowell Road supermarket leave their signs in place, but they added more.

At the Amherst Street Market Basket, assistant manager Caleb Owens gestured at stacks of red-and-white signs supporting the ongoing boycott by customers.

“These were dropped off by a customer,” Owens said. “Hundreds of them.”

Owens said signs were distributed by the owner of a printing company to all 71 Market Basket stores in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. They joined the existing messages of support for ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

“We put a bunch up in the windows. The people on the side of the road are using them,” Owens said, referring to employees standing at the edge of the plaza, asking people to honk in support.

Inside, customers were few and far between. Bill Sarsfield of Nashua said he visits the store for beer, wine and a few “odds and ends.”

“I’ll go up to Shaw’s when I have to, but only when I have to,” he said. “I want it over with right now. It’s ridiculous.”

Owens reflected on his family’s history with the company, particularly his father.

“My whole life growing up, that’s where he worked,” he said. “I never wanted for anything. I remember Bonus Day. We get paid well. Our bonuses are very good. I remember him coming home two weeks before Christmas. We’d go out shopping. Everybody got new shoes and new clothes.”

Owens became a Market Basket manager at age 19. These days, he treats his own children when Bonus Day rolls around.

Understandably, the job action by Market Basket employees has been a source of stress. At 35, Owens said he has more money in his profit sharing plan than a lot of people get when they’re 60. He estimates he could lose his house in a matter of months without his job. And he would face the challenge of entering the job market without a college degree.

“At the beginning of this I was scared,” he said. “My wife and I have sat down and talked about it. Over the course of these four or five weeks I was scared. Then I was nervous. Now I’m just defiant.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or DHimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).