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Executives at the troubled Market Basket supermarket chain say they've heard from current employees who want to apply for jobs left vacant by workers protesting the firing of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas but are "concerned for their safety."
In a statement released Monday afternoon, co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said they had heard from "many associates" who were interested in applying for internal positions but were concerned for their own safety if they were to attend a job fair scheduled for Monday afternoon. The statement went on:
"In response to their concerns, we are making available an email address to which associates can apply. Any associate interested should send a copy of their resume to email@example.com.
We understand this statement will likely generate incoming email not appropriate for this purpose, but feel associates interested in opportunity should be given an opportunity without fear of intimidation and harassment.”
Mike Maguire, who heads up produce distribution for the chain and has continued to protest despite warnings that the company would begin to seek replacements for employees who did not return to work Monday, called the statement "ridiculous."
"That's really propaganda," Maguire, who was among demonstrators outside the job fair in Andover Monday, told WBUR. "We may be a loud bunch, but we're a very peaceful bunch. So no incidences here at all."
Hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers have refused to make deliveries over the past two weeks, leading to severely depleted store shelves and a boycott by customers who support the workers and former CEO Arthur T., who was fired in June by a board controlled by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.
In a statement Sunday, Arthur T. offered to return to work to stabilize the company while negotiations continue over his bid to buy the chain.
The company's board of directors, however, reaffirmed its support for co-CEOs Thornton and Gooch, who were appointed to replace Demoulas.
In full-page ads taken out in the region's newspapers last week, the company said it would attempt to recruit store directors, assistant directors, grocery buyers, perishable buyers and accountants through a job fair beginning Monday.
Steve Paulenka, one of the eight fired managers, said store directors and assistant directors have not left their jobs and have kept their stores running.
"Those stores have been open. It's not their fault that they don't have a lick of chicken, a stalk of celery or a yogurt in their stores," Paulenka said. "Why do you post a full-page ad to replace people who have been going to work every day?"
The feud between the two factions of the Demoulas family goes back decades, but this is the first time the infighting has had a widespread impact on the company's stores.
With reporting from the Associated Press and the WBUR newsroom.
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