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Gov. Deval Patrick says he hopes Market Basket workers will “see a way” to return to work while a deal to sell the supermarket chain is finalized.
Patrick says he's spoken to ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and the chair of the Market Basket board and it seems they are close to agreeing on a price for Arthur T. to buy a controlling share of the company, but the two sides are still hammering out other conditions, including financing.
Patrick told reporters Wednesday that his greatest concern is for the workers.
"They have it entirely within their power to stabilize the company by going back to work," Patrick said. "And I hope they can see a way to do that while the buyer and seller work out the final terms of a transaction"
Patrick says he’s not taking an active role in the negotiations and that the key figures reached out to him. Still, he said it's in everybody's interest, including his, "that we have economic peace."
The independent directors of Market Basket's board released a statement backing Patrick's call for employees to return to work, adding that their offer to allow Arthur T. to return to the company with his management team but not as CEO still stands.
"All we seek is to get our Associates back to work earning a steady income so our customers can go back to shopping," the statement read. "In return, we can’t offer a resolution to the deal negotiations, but have and will continue to offer a way to return to normal while negotiations continue."
But many workers say they won't return. They want to keep the pressure up until a deal is finalized.
"Our message remains clear: we will go back to work when Arthur T Demoulas goes back to work with full authority or when the deal is in place to sell him the company," read a statement posted on a website established by protesting employees.
Fired worker and protest leader Tom Trainor says employees take directions from former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, not the governor.
"And if he thinks the employees can just walk back in and stabilize the customers, the customers are not coming back without Artie, and quite frankly, we’re not either."
Workers have been demanding the return of the Arthur T. for nearly a month — protesting by blocking shipments of produce and other perishable items to stores.
Arthur T. was fired in June by the board, which is controlled by his rival cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.