The protests and consumer boycott at the Market Basket grocery chain over the firing of former president Arthur T. Demoulas is well into its fifth week, and news has slowed to a trickle. The chain is losing millions of dollars a day, middle managers at the executive offices in Tewksbury remain off the job, and the board of directors is negotiating with suitors to sell the $4.6 billion company. Governors Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire brought the parties together Sunday to try and broker a deal between the warring factions of the Demoulas family, to little avail. The board of directors met Monday, also without results. Arthur T. contends that the board is seeking “onerous” terms that are preventing him from buying the 50.5 percent of the company controlled by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.
All 71 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine remain open, but shelves are empty in the produce and meat sections, though other shelves are well stocked. Few customers are coming in, and there is little business to support the regular payroll of hundreds of employees per store. Several major vendors have cut off business with the chain, out of loyalty to Arthur T. One vendor, Boston Sword & Tuna, posted a letter on its Facebook page decrying the “incredible” blunders of the new management team.
Market Basket took thousands of part-time workers off its payroll because of the decline in business. Officials in Massachusetts and New Hampshire say those workers may be eligible for unemployment benefits, but so far few have filed.
Last week, chief executives Felicia Thornton and James Gooch sent letters to several hundred workers at the company’s headquarters in Tewksbury and at company warehouses, saying if they did not report to work in three business days, “the company will consider you to have abandoned your job, thereby ending your employment with the company.” That deadline passed without any reports of firings. To date, eight senior executives have been fired for organizing the protest calling for the reinstatement of former president Arthur T. Demoulas.
3. Social media
The main avenues of communication for the protesters are their website, wearemarketbasket.com, and a “Save Market Basket” Facebook page that had attracted 88,135 likes as of Thursday. The Twitter account, @SaveMB, is less active — 1,714 followers. “Wearemarketbasket” on Instagram, where photos from the stores are posted, has 1,747 followers.
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