Business

Market Basket Employees Plan to Walk Out Despite Firing Threat

Market Basket’s co-CEOs, Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, wrote a letter to employees Thursday, threatening to fire anybody who walks out on the job in support of ousted leader Arthur T. Demoulas.

But employees at the company’s Tewksbury headquarters appear ready to put their jobs on the line.

A message on the Save Market Basket Facebook page says employees met with Thornton and Gooch at 3 p.m. today:

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“The meeting (between employees with Thornton and Gooch) ended with associates walking away from (the CEOs) more irate and firm in their resolve than ever. Tomorrow, July 18...our associates at HQ will not be going to work. They will be backing up their words with actions and will be standing up for something they care so much for. They once again send the message to the board to bring back (Demoulas) and to the stores that they simply give them their support and nothing else. Continue to take care of our customers.”

Employees at the chain’s stores are not being encouraged to walk out.

Market Basket district manager Tom Trainor confirmed the plan to Boston.com. He said the walkout might also apply to Market Basket drivers, who are centered in the Tewksbury warehouse. “They may choose not to go to work tomorrow,” Trainor said. That action would, presumably, have an effect on Market Basket stores’ stocks.

“I think the letter (from Thornton and Gooch) galvanized the associates in the office rather than strike fear,” Trainor said.

The Lowell Sun reports the walkout is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

Employees had previously demanded that Demoulas be reinstated. They had demanded an answer by 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The letter from Thornton and Gooch said the board plans to meet by phone to discuss the demand on Monday. The letter also said at least two Market Basket employees would be given the opportunity to speak with the board either Monday, by phone, or next Friday, in person.

The letter warned employees that if they “abandoned” their jobs, the company would “have no choice but to permanently replace” them.

“Any action is an individual choice and we hope that your top priority continues to be taking care of the Market Basket customer,” the letter read.

The full letter:

Boston.com sources have confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

Employees have rallied in support of Demoulas since he and two other executives were fired last month. Other executive-level employees resigned as a result of the firing.

That action was the latest in a long-time feud between Demoulas and his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, over control of the company. Gooch and Thornton were installed upon Demoulas’s firing.

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