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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hudson Market Basket workers disappointed, but aren’t giving up their protests

HUDSON – Patience may be a virtue, but even at the Market Basket store where employee protests have been visible staple over the past few weeks, the virtue may be wearing a little thin.

“We’ve been tearing our hair out over this,” said Jim Close, a merchandizer at the Lowell Road store, as he stood along the sidewalk during his lunch hour Monday with more than a dozen co-workers holding signs support ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Like many involved with Market Basket, Close had been hoping that the warring factions in the Demoulas family would reach a deal Sunday, selling the company to “Artie T.” ...

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HUDSON – Patience may be a virtue, but even at the Market Basket store where employee protests have been visible staple over the past few weeks, the virtue may be wearing a little thin.

“We’ve been tearing our hair out over this,” said Jim Close, a merchandizer at the Lowell Road store, as he stood along the sidewalk during his lunch hour Monday with more than a dozen co-workers holding signs support ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Like many involved with Market Basket, Close had been hoping that the warring factions in the Demoulas family would reach a deal Sunday, selling the company to “Artie T.”

Hope was so high, he said, “We brought some part-timers back in, because we thought it would be over.”

Arthur T. Demoulas has offered to pay more than $1.5 billion to take control of the embattled company, buying the 50.5 percent that he doesn’t already own, and Friday the governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts both said they thought an agreement was imminent. But a Sunday meeting of the board of directors was called off because not enough of the family-owned store’s stockholders were in support.

The company is losing millions of dollars a day due to the customer boycott urged by employees. It has about 25,000 employees in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

Among the part-timers brought back to the Hudson store this week was Cheryl Pearce of Hudson, who has worked there for six years.

“It’s kind of disappointing. We were all counting on that,” Pearce said, while holding her hand-printed sign saying “Honk Support Market Basket.”

They’re not alone. The customer boycott that has been urged by many employees remains strong, with few cars parked Monday in front of the Market Basket, the anchor store of the small shopping center. Business remains affected throughout the plaza.

“We’ve noticed a real decline in walk-in business,” said Kym Graham, stylist at the nearby Fantastic Sam’s hair cuttery.

Business remains good among regulars and those who call up for appointments, but not from the spur-of-the-moment client.

“People want to make one stop. They don’t want to go somewhere for (groceries) then somewhere else,” she said.

Despite the disappointment, however, the Hudson employees aren’t giving up.

Two weeks ago, for example, co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch sent managers an email telling them to remove signs related to the boycott, but they all remain in place at the Hudson store – including so many shopping receipts from competitors’ stores taped to the glass doors, a sign of support from customers, that you can’t see through them any more.

As had long been the case, many cars and trucks honked in a sign of support as they passed the protesters: So many, in fact, that at times it was hard to hold a conversation.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).