Despite Ultimatum, Market Basket Workers Continue Protests

Market Basket employees rally in Tewksbury on Tuesday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Market Basket employees rally in Tewksbury on Tuesday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Hundreds of Market Basket workers protested at company headquarters Friday despite orders that they return to work or be fired.

In a statement earlier this week, the supermarket chain issued what they called their "final" warning to protesting employees, saying they would consider their jobs abandoned if they did not work return to work by Friday.

Joshua Gusty, one of about 200 workers who showed up at the Market Basket headquarters in Tewksbury Friday to protests, says he and his coworkers will not return until Arthur T. Demoulas is reinstated as CEO.

"They say they're not gonna go back, they'd rather get another job if it comes down to it," he said.

Gusty also predicted the standoff would be over soon.

"It's got to be," he said. "The company loses money every day. It's going to be worth nothing."

Kate Bronfenbrenner, a labor relations professor at Cornell University, said Friday's deadline could be pivotal since the workers are not being led by an experienced union.

"They're new at this," she said. "And they haven't had a chance to learn that people are more likely to get everything they need if they all stay out."

Gov. Deval Patrick earlier this week said that the company was close to agreeing on a price for Arthur T. to buy a controlling share of the company, but was still hammering out other conditions, including financing.

He urged employees to return to work while the deal is being finalized to "stabilize the company" and bring back "economic peace."

Meanwhile, Market Basket's CEOs are urging store managers to staff all full-time workers for next week and remove signs from store entrances calling for boycotts.

Store manager Marty Maguire says he won't take down the signs, and that it wouldn't matter if he did.

"We do have some signage up that explains to customers what our store looks like and the lack of product," Maguire said. "As far as the entrance ways and preventing customers, there's nobody at my doors because the customers aren't even coming in."

Workers have been demanding the return of the Arthur T. for a month now — protesting by blocking shipments of produce and other perishable items to stores.

This article was originally published on August 15, 2014.


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