AGs Joe Foster, Martha Coakley write to Market Basket after threats to fire workers
Employees of the Storrs Street Marketbasket react to a honking car in front of the store Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Store assistant manager Robin Jarvis, in sunglasses and tie joined the group as he supports the bringing back Arthur T. Demoulas as C.E.O of the embattled company. "The right thing to do is to bring back Artie T." Jarvis said before going back to work. Asked if was worried about getting fired over his action, he said he feels he is next to go anyway and, " I would rather see me go rather than any of my employees." (GEOFF FORESTER Monitor staff)
A day after company representatives announced plans to replace employees protesting the ouster of the company’s beloved former CEO, local Market Basket workers say they’re not worried.
“It’s just smoke. It’s scare tactics,” said Jason Desjardins, front-end manager for Market Basket on Storrs Street in Concord.
“They underestimate how long we’re going to be able to stick it out. These scare tactics just anger the bee’s nest more every time. It’s angering the customers, and it makes us that much more resilient. This is bigger than Market Basket now. The entire nation is watching because this is about people standing up to corporate greed. . . . And we’re all in.”
The attorneys general of New Hampshire and Massachusetts are watching, they told the company’s leaders in a letter yesterday.
“Your decisions of course directly impact thousands of employees and thousands of customers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” wrote Attorneys General Martha Coakley and Joe Foster. “Those decisions also have serious implications for the many small businesses that supply your stores or otherwise rely on a close business relationship with Market Basket for their livelihood. Please keep all of these impacted persons in mind as you chart the course for Market Basket.”
Employees have been calling the states’ offices, concerned about their legal rights, they wrote.
Any New Hampshire worker whose employment is terminated must be paid all wages that are due within 72 hours of the discharge, according to the letter.
Co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch responded with a statement saying they intend to follow all applicable laws as they attempt to get the stores “back up and running for our customers and, importantly, for the many local vendors that rely on Market Basket to make their own businesses successful.
“We have said several times that we hope sincerely that we do not discharge any employees. We want our associates back,” they wrote.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the company is scheduled to host job fairs, the first two days will be for current employees interested in changing positions and the last day will be for outside applicants. The open positions include store directors, accountants and grocery buyers, according to an ad that ran yesterday.
Customers rallied to raise thousands of dollars – $11,000 in less than six hours, with more donations likely rolling in all night – for a response ad. A draft posted online told the company they won’t shop at the stores until ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas is reinstated, even if new employees are hired to stock the shelves.
Grocery buyers, truck drivers and other employees at the company’s corporate headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass., have been not working since July 21, leading to missed deliveries and empty shelves at the chain’s 71 stores across New England.
But at those stores, including two in Concord, one in Tilton and one in Warner, employees have been continuing to show up for their scheduled shifts.
“We clean, we fix things, we stock what we can, and when we run out of things to do, we have the option to clock out and stand out here,” said Jim Purple, assistant dairy manager at the Storrs Street store.
He estimated that though he’s come to work every day he’s scheduled, he has clocked out and stood in front with signs encouraging a customer boycott for more than half those hours.
“I’ll feel it next week in my paycheck, I’m sure,” he said.
Purple and Desjardins said they plan to go to the job fair Monday, to treat it like the joke they believe it is.
“I’ll be filling out an application for Arthur T. Demoulas for the position of CEO. I expect they’ll get thousands of applications like that,” Desjardins said.
Jim Netto, assistant store manager at the Fort Eddy Road location, protested out front on his lunch break. He said he won’t have any reason to go to the job fairs in Massachusetts.
“I already have a job I love,” he said. “Why would I need to go to a job fair?”
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)