Business at Market Basket stores slowed to a trickle Wednesday morning as employees continued their protests, according to employees and managers at stores across Massachusetts.
Employees also have issued calls for another rally on Friday at the chain’s Tewksbury headquarters at 10 a.m., the same day the company’s board of directors is scheduled to meet at the Prudential Center in Boston. The workers are seeking the reinstatement of former chief executive Arthur T. Demoulas, who is locked in a decades-long battle for control of the 71-store chain with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.
“We are in the midst of what will most likely be the biggest and most important cause any of us will ever be a part of,” the protesters wrote on their website. “The eyes of the nation are on us as we march forward with unwavering resolve to get ATD back in charge and put Market Basket back on track.”
The protesting employees referred to Friday’s rally as “our biggest and final rally.”
Organizers have collected 42,758 signatures to a petition on care2.com that is now closed, they say the signatures have been e-mailed to members of the company’s board of directors. The protest’s two Facebook pages have attracted more than 80,000 likes. More than a hundred politicians from Massachusetts and New Hampshire also have voiced their support for the protesting workers.
With most stores not having received deliveries since Thursday, the day before the store’s truck drivers stopped work, Market Basket managers and customers posting to social media said shelves were running bare. None of five stores contacted Wednesday morning had produce. Those that still had meat for sale said they probably wouldn’t much longer. Shoppers were few and far between.
“I’ve probably had seven customers so far,” said Al Davis, the store director of the Market Basket in Reading, when reached shortly before 9 a.m. On a normal day, he said, as many as 600 customers might have come to store by that time. The store opens at 7 a.m.
Many employees clock out to protest in front of their stores, managers said, but they apparently are still getting paid for the hours they are in the stores. Silvie Lavoie, the office manager at the Market Basket store in Leominster, said that although paper checks are generally not issued until Thursday, some employees with direct deposit said they were paid yesterday.