Shelves Remain Bare As Market Basket Protests Continue

Hundreds showed up in Tewksbury on Monday to continue to call for the rehiring of the former CEO.

Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

Shoppers visiting Market Basket locations over the weekend were met with pamphlets and petitions in place of produce and other perishable goods as the embattled supermarkets continue to take a hit due to the company’s recent decision to oust former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

On Monday, the barren food aisles were expected to remain the same as workers again gathered at Market Basket headquarters in Tewksbury for a day-long protest, waving signs, marching, and calling for Demoulas to get his job back as head of the supermarket chain.

Demoulas was removed from his post last month by a board of directors that includes his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. The families have been feuding for decades over the control of the supermarket chain, which has 71 stores in three states.

Already, at least eight employees were fired during the weekend as a result of the ongoing protests, causing more outrage as workers gathered in Tewksbury.

According to the “Save Market Basket” Facebook page, which has been keeping employees updated on the tense situation that has unfolded in the last month, the employees—some of whom have worked for the company for 40 years—were notified via courier of their termination.

“It wasn’t unexpected…I knew the risk but I also knew that I was fighting for something much bigger than myself. I was fighting for my [Market Basket] family, for Arthur T. Demoulas, a man that I have tremendous respect, loyalty, and admiration for,” said Tom Trainor, one of the employees who was let go. “I have no regrets—I would do it all over again and I leave the company I love with my head held high in the knowledge that there wasn’t a single thing more that I could have done.”

The issue has even garnered attention from state officials, who have stepped in to voice support for the workers who have left or lost their jobs to stand behind Demoulas.

“The actions of thousands of Market Basket employees over the last days have been truly inspiring. They are putting their jobs on the line—with little or no protection from reprisals from current management—to stand up for the simple principle that workers deserve to be treated with respect and their voices deserve to be heard,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “I hope the current management of Market Basket will respect these voices and that these employees will able to make their case without losing their jobs or their hard earned benefits.”

Other politicians have signed a petition promising to boycott the store until the workers’ demands are met.

In Somerville, business was slower than usual on a Sunday afternoon, as employees lingered around the store and shelves went unstocked. Racks where pre-made salads and other vegetables would normally go were completely empty, and signs that urged confused customers to call on the company’s leaders to reinstate Demoulas hung in their place.

Near the exits, large posters of the former CEO’s face were hung high above customers’ heads, with the words “I Believe” underneath. Cashiers at each checkout line had petitions at the ready, asking people to sign them in support of Demoulas as they paid for their food.

The scene was not out of the ordinary in Somerville, however. Stores all across the state were similarly void of new shipments, leaving the normally bustling supermarket looking like it does in the wintertime when a major snowstorm is approaching.

Workers said the conditions will continue until some sort of action is taken on the part of the board that forced out Demoulas.

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