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War of words continues in Market Basket stalemate

Union Leader Correspondent

August 11. 2014 9:33PM

Market Basket’s three independent members of the Board of Directors released another statement Monday, again stressing that workers and customers are being held hostage in the standoff between rival factions of the family which owns the supermarket chain.

Board members emphasized they have offered a solution to the current conflict between associates who have vowed not to work for anyone other than former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. The company’s management and directors are seeking to have the chain’s 71 stores up and running while negotiations continue to determine the future of the company.

The board is evaluating Arthur T. Demoulas’ offer to buy out opposing family members interests in the company, as well as offers from other bidders who currently have no ownership stake in the company.

The board offered to reinstate Arthur T. Demoulas’ management team, which was fired last month, but they have no plan to reinstate Demoulas himself.

“We are available to resolve this standoff anytime and anywhere,” wrote board members Keith Cowan, Eric Gebaide and Ron Weiner. “All it takes is a ‘Yes.’ ‘Yes’ to getting Associates back to work. ‘Yes’ to letting people get back to shopping. And ‘Yes’ to sitting down and working out a long-term solution to the business issues that confront us.”

Market Basket workers shot back with a statement calling on the board to say “Yes” to bringing back Arthur T.

In a statement posted on the “We Are Market Basket” website, workers took issue with the word “hostages.”

“We also want (the Board of Directors) to understand that we are not hostages. In fact we have all said “Yes” to not working for (CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch) and to not shopping in the stores until our one, simple demand is met. All of our actions are done through our own free will…”

A spokeswoman for Arthur T. Demoulas responded with a statement to the board members yesterday, saying the ousted CEO did not want to negotiate through statements made to the press.

“Arthur T Demoulas reaffirms his desire and good faith for completing the purchase of the 50.5 percent of Demoulas Supermarkets Inc.,” read that statement. “Those terms include an offer at their asking price, at a valuation determined pre-crisis.”

According to Demoulas’ spokeswoman, the former CEO’s offers have been rejected, not on the basis of price, but with counterproposals that include “onerous terms” beyond comparable transactions.

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