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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Market Basket workers rally in support of ex-CEO Arthur T. Demoulas

An estimated 1,000 people showed up at Market Basket supermarket chain headquarters Friday in a show of support for the company’s former chief executive.

Employees and others loyal to former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas rallied in Tewksbury, Mass., to press for his reinstatement. ...

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An estimated 1,000 people showed up at Market Basket supermarket chain headquarters Friday in a show of support for the company’s former chief executive.

Employees and others loyal to former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas rallied in Tewksbury, Mass., to press for his reinstatement.

“My family’s here. In times of crisis, families pull together,” said Mark Lemieux, manager of the Market Basket in Londonderry. “That’s what’s we’re here for.

“This is a major crisis. This is a big deal. They cut the head off the company. We want him back, and we’re not going to settle for anything less.”

Linda Kulis, an accounts receivable supervisor at the company’s headquarters, said Demoulas’ dismissal has made employees uncertain about the future of the company as well as their own futures.

“Fear of our jobs. Fear of things changing,” she said. “We want Mr. Demoulas back. He’s our leader. He’s the only one who’s going to continue what we’ve all been working so hard for all these years. He’s the one who’s going to help me retire and live a good life.”

In a Friday posting on the website wearemarket
basket.com
, supporters of Arthur T. Demoulas railed against the new leadership.

“We have decided that we cannot sit back and be silent as they steer this ship headlong into the iceberg. To do so would have us be complicit in their plan,” the posting said.

“We are resolved to do what we can to stop them and take our company back. What we are doing is unprecedented so therefore we have no blueprint to follow or business school lesson to refer to.”

The new CEOs said in a letter to workers Thursday that those who walked away from their jobs could be fired.

“Any action is an individual choice and we hope that your top priority continues to be taking care of the Market Basket customer,” the letter read.

“Some may think we are naive and maybe we are. Perhaps that naivete works in our favor as it allows us to believe that what we are doing is not only right but also achievable,” employees wrote on the website. “We hope to become the precedent, the blueprint and the business school lesson! We are scared, but not as scared as we are of their ruinous plan.”

Demoulas, a member of the family that owns the privately held chain, lost his job last month in a long-running battle for control with a cousin.

“We firmly believe that the firing of Arthur T. Demoulas and his management team is simply the start of a process which will lead to the dismantling of Market Basket as we know it for the enrichment of a few shareholders,” protesting employees wrote.

“Arthur S. Demoulas is bent on destroying all that we hold dear about this company to satisfy his unrelenting desire for money and revenge.”

The new CEOs said the power to reinstate Demoulas lies with the board that fired him. The board plans a telephone conference Monday to discuss the workers’ demand. Employee representatives were invited.

The chain has about 70 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.