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July 17. 2014 7:40PM

Market Basket execs to employees: Walk out and get fired

Top executives at Market Basket said Thursday that the board of directors will hold a special meeting via telephone on Monday to consider demands of rebellious workers, but they warned that those who abandon their jobs will lose them.

The memo — shown below as it was posted Thursday on a website maintained by workers loyal to ousted chief executive Arthur T. Demoulas — came on the deadline set by the workers for a decision on the restoration of Demoulas.

Market Basket memo to employees

An unsigned post in the website took a critical tone of the one-page headquarters memo. The post said Market Basket associates who work at the Tewksbury, Mass., headquarters will not be at work on Friday.

“They will be backing up their words with actions and will be standing up for something they care so much for. They once again send the message to the board to bring back ATD and to the stores that they simply give them their support and nothing else,” the message reads.

Over the past two weeks, headquarters workers have ramped up their support for Demoulas, the longtime chief-executive of Market Basket, who was ousted on June 23 along with two senior executives.

Workers have launched a website, given interviews and posted a billboard in the front of company headquarters telling Demoulas that they have his back.

On Thursday, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said he’d like to see Demoulas returned. The opening of a Market Basket in downtown Manchester is seen as one of the biggest development projects of his tenure.

“My relationship with Arthur T. is much closer than the other one. I certainly believe he should be in charge,” said Gatsas, a Republican who was a successful businessman before launching a career into politics.

The memo from Market Basket headquarters came from Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, who replaced Demoulas as the top executives in the company. The two said the Market Basket chairman will hold a board telephone meeting on Monday. The two said they’ve offered to make two Market Basket associates available for either the telephone meeting or a follow up board meeting on July 25.

They also stressed that it is an individual decision for anyone to make about whether to continue with Market Basket.

“To be clear — doing your job is continuing to do the same type of work that you regularly do every day — not newly defined tasks from your supervisor,” the memo reads. “If you choose to abandon your job or refuse to perform your job requirements, you will leave us no choice but to permanently replace you.”

The two said their commitment continues to Market Basket customers, employees, benefit programs, bonus programs, profit sharing and new stores.

The website post said the tone of a meeting at headquarters was threatening.

“The meeting ended with associates walking away from (Thornton and Gooch) more irate and firm in their resolve than ever,” the post reads.

At the Market Basket store in Manchester, signs were up with a photo image of Demoulas and a caption “I Believe.” Store Manager Peter Gulezian said customers have been supportive of his employees.

“They want to see this resolved, and they want (Demoulas) back,” Gulezian said. He said the store will be open today. He said managers at all 72 Market Basket support the headquarters employees, but they get their news from the website.“Everybody’s nervous,” Gulezian said. “We’ve been nervous for a year now. We’re sick to our stomachs.”

Demoulas lost his job after his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, gained control of the board of directors. The two have long differed over the company direction. Last year, Arthur S. gained controlling influence on the board of directors and convinced a Massachusetts judge to order a distribution of $300 million in profits to shareholders.

Many fear the company will eventually be sold.

mhayward@unionleader.com



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