Large protest at Tilton Market Basket; Delivery truck left unloaded
TILTON — Mike LeClair is known for speaking his mind to his employees, and he did so Tuesday night in a Facebook post as he invited his Market Basket employees to a large protest outside Store 59 on Route 3.
In the Facebook post he addressed the new Market Basket co-CEOs, Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton while giving his pledge to support Arthur T. Demoulas, the beloved former leader of the company.
“With no respect intended, you Felicia and you Jim are clueless,” LeClair wrote. “The Board of directors that hired you should be criminally prosecuted for allowing you to bully us and for the fear you have spread.”
“I'm not afraid anymore. I'm shutting Tilton 59 down Wednesday in every sense of the word. One cashier should be able to handle our business. I'm done with your threats, Tilton 59 associates are done as well … Come get the perishable truck you sent that's at the dock unloaded.”
At the store, more than 100 employees stood while cars and trucks drove into the store’s parking lot. Most saw the store was dark and turned around.
“I don’t have any produce, no meat, there isn’t much in the store,” said LeClair, who brought his wife and children to the protest. “Shutting down sends the message that we aren’t afraid.”
LeClair knows his job is in jeopardy. The company wants him to go back to work, he said, but he refuses because the new management fired Arthur T. Demoulas.
“I know my neck is out there on the line, I’m not going to lie,” he said.
His 18-year-old son, Matt LeClair, said he supports his father and the Store 59 “family” that was well represented on Wednesday morning.
“I’m proud of what he is doing,” Matt LeClair said. “I hope he doesn’t lose his job over it.”
Joe Linehan, the store’s front manager, looked at the nearly empty store as he stood in the protest line.
“Normally we’d have 10 registers open with lots of customers right now,” he said on Wednesday morning. “We knew the customers when they came in the door in the morning. That’s something Arthur T. embraces.”
Most of the protestors had stories about Arthur Demoulas.
“He’s the best because he takes care of his family,” said Mary Perry of Penacook, whose husband works at the store.
Late in the morning, Mike LeClair gathered the protestors so he could address them.
“I want to come back to work, I want it back,” he said. “We’ve crippled this company now, and we have probably lost some loyalty from our customers. But we can all go back to work on Monday if they do the right thing and bring back Arthur T.”