News Column

Market Basket workers escape ax

July 18, 2014

By Donna Goodison, Boston Herald

July 19--There had yet to be fallout last night for Market Basket employees who ditched work yesterday to rally for the reinstatement of the grocery chain's fired CEO even as their own jobs were on the line.

An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 Market Basket employees and others showed up at the company's Tewksbury headquarters yesterday to show support for former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, fired last month by a board aligned with his rival cousin and shareholder, Arthur S. Demoulas.

The turnout by warehouse employees and drivers crippled the company's ability to ship groceries from the adjacent Tewksbury distribution center to stores, workers said.

"I never took more sick calls in my life than I did today," Dean Joyce, the center's manager, told those gathered for the rally. "I hope you all feel better."

Protests will continue until Arthur T. Demoulas "comes back," district manager Tom Trainor said.

"We can shut this company down, and that is the only way we're going to gain the attention of the board of directors," Trainor said. "We keep these warehouses shut down, and by midweek next week, the customers will be ringing the phone off the hook."

A driver for an outside carrier said he was unable to make his scheduled delivery to the Tewksbury center yesterday morning and had to return the load to his Woburn warehouse.

"There were 50 trucks in the parking lot this morning waiting to get in," said the driver, Jason, who only wanted to be identified by his first name. "They weren't taking any trucks. All the truck bays are blocked (by Market Basket trucks), and there weren't any Market Basket employees. Normally, there's trucks coming in all day, at least until 4 p.m."

Stores were open as usual yesterday, and will be "as long as they have product to sell," Trainor said.

Employees interviewed by the Herald said they had checked into work prior to the rally and planned to return after. "We were encouraged to go, but I made the decision on my own," said Ian Harcourt, a Brockton assistant store manager.

In a memo to employees Thursday in advance of the rally, new co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch warned, "If you choose to abandon your job or refuse to perform your job requirements, you will leave us no choice but to permanently replace you."

Harcourt said he was "more worried about losing the company if I didn't come here."

Spokeswomen for the CEOs and board did not respond to Herald inquiries.


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Source: Boston Herald (MA)

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