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July 23. 2014 7:51PM

NH lawmakers back Market Basket boycott


Luke Demers, a longtime employee of the Hudson Market Basket, held up a homemade sign as he demonstrated with several dozen coworkers along Lowell Road Wednesday afternoon. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

House Speaker Terie Norelli has joined more than 65 legislators in signing a petition urging people to boycott Market Basket and stating the company’s board and officers are “motivated by corporate greed.”

“We call upon the management of Market Basket to enter into a good-faith dialogue with its New Hampshire employees,” reads the petition. “Until that happens, we ask that all of our colleagues join with us and boycott Market Basket and stand with its employees as they make their voices heard.”

Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, said he and colleague Peter Sullivan, D-Manchester, are collecting signatures to present to Market Basket management in Tewksbury, Mass.

“In a way, it’s a response to Market Basket employees who say, ‘Help us,’” Cushing said Wednesday.

The petition is garnering bipartisan support with about 65 representatives, three state senators and six former legislators signing it, according to Sullivan.

Sullivan said he hopes Market Basket management will see that many sectors of society are backing the workers.

“In the aggregate, it shows there’s a tremendous amount of support for the workers out there,” Sullivan said. “Hopefully, the new management team at Market Basket will realize that they’re on the wrong side of public opinion and they’re on the wrong side of history in this fight.”

Thousands of Market Basket employees have held rallies. Some have refused to return to work and are encouraging customers to boycott stores until the company’s board calls back former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

A statement released Tuesday by company co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch said they regretted firing eight workers but said those individuals harmed the company.

“We strongly encourage all associates to return their focus to Market Basket’s customers, their needs and expectations,” the statement said.

New Hampshire is home to about 30 Market Basket stores.

Cushing said he is working with Massachusetts legislators who have launched a similar petition drive.

Norelli was in Washington in meetings Wednesday and not available for comment, according to her chief of staff, Ryan Mahoney.

“I can confirm that she did sign on,” he said. “I couldn’t say whether she’s doing any lobbying on behalf of the petition.”

The petition reads in full:

“Statement of Support for Market Basket Employees by New Hampshire Lawmakers

“We, the undersigned, stand today with the thousands of Market Basket employees who have walked out of their jobs in protest of the firing of their beloved CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

“These employees know that Market Basket has been the chosen supermarket of many people looking to save money on groceries. They know that the leadership of Arthur T. Demoulas is the reason Market Basket has been able to keep prices low while delivering quality products to mainly under-served areas. The current actions of the board and officers is one motivated by corporate greed and will only serve to destroy the legacy the Demoulas family has worked generations to establish.

“We call upon the management of Market Basket to enter into a good faith dialogue with its New Hampshire employees. Until that happens, we ask that all of our colleagues join with us and boycott Market Basket and stand with its employees as they make their voices heard.”

mcousineau@unionleader.com



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