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Market Basket's new chief executives are asking employees who've stayed off the job to protest the ouster of the former CEO to return to work by Monday, saying they can do so "without fear of penalty."
"We again acknowledge and understand how difficult this situation has been for associates. However, we also need to have associates working to support stores, customers and vendors," Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said in a statement released Wednesday. "Our hope and strong preference is to have Market Basket's incredible associates return to work. Again, any associate that wants to return will be welcomed and not penalized."
For workers who choose not to return by Monday, the CEOs said Market Basket "will begin advertising for employment opportunities."
Steve Paulenka, a longtime worker who was fired over the protests, dismissed the statement.
"We're a crazy bunch, threats like that just aren't going to work," he told WBUR's Curt Nickisch.
Paulenka said the new CEOs don't know what they're doing.
"They've been trying for over a week to run a warehouse. They get 10 trailers out a day instead of 110," he said. "Do you honestly think they're going to find folks to run 80,000-90,000-square-foot buildings employing 400 people? Let's be realistic."
According to The Associated Press, the request comes as managers at 68 of the chain's 71 stores planned to deliver a petition warning that they will resign if Arthur T. Demoulas is not reinstated as CEO.
Arthur T. was ousted in June by the supermarket's board of directors, which is controlled by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. The two have a long-running feud.
Employees calling for Arthur T.'s return began protesting two weeks ago, leaving some store shelves empty, and urging customers to shop elsewhere.
The supermarket chain's board issued a statement Tuesday saying they were considering several offers from potential buyers, including one from Arthur T.