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Mass. Gov. Patrick wades into Market Basket fray

Union Leader Correspondent

August 13. 2014 10:03PM

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is urging Market Basket workers to return to their stores, adding that he has spoken with both sides in the supermarket standoff, and a deal is close.

On Wednesday, Patrick said he had spoken with both former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, who has an offer on the table to buy out rival family members from the company, and Keith O. Cowan, chairman of the company’s board of directors. The board has been evaluating bids for the 71-store chain.

According to New England Cable News, Patrick said both sides are inching closer to an agreement on a sales price and that workers can “stabilize” the company by returning to their jobs while final negotiations play out.

So far, Market Basket workers, who have been protesting and demanding the reinstatement of Arthur T. Demoulas, have rejected similar calls from the board of directors.

Last Friday, the board released a statement outlining a “path forward” which included bringing back eight senior managers fired for their roles in organizing the rallies and boycotts. However, the board refused to reinstate Arthur T. Demoulas.

Market Basket workers responded with their own statement that called the board’s proposal a “joke.”

They also repeated their promise not to return until their former boss is back at the helm as the company’s CEO.

A spokeswoman for Arthur T. Demoulas also responded to the board’s proposed path forward, saying the former CEO’s offers had been rejected, and met with counterproposals “laden with onerous terms.”

Since Friday, the board has released several more statements, accusing Arthur T. Demoulas of holding the company’s 25,000 employees and 2 million customers hostage during the negotiations.

Patrick stayed on the sidelines of the supermarket fray, calling it a private company matter. But last Friday, he said the specter of thousands of laid-off Bay State residents convinced him to write to the board of directors.

“By any measure, the disruption caused by your recent change in CEO has gotten out of hand, and I am writing to urge you to find a prompt resolution,” he told the seven-member board.

When asked for more details on the Market Basket deal on Wednesday afternoon, Patrick said he would have more to say later.

Late Wednesday, the Market Basket board released a statement applauding Patrick’s call for workers to return to the stores.

However the board offered no new information about the sale.

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