More Fired After Market Basket Walk-Offs

A sign seen outside of a Market Basket in Portsmouth, N.H. Saturday.
A sign seen outside of a Market Basket in Portsmouth, N.H. Saturday.
Larry Drake - @LarryDrake2

Market Basket employees say several leaders of the ongoing employee movement have been fired after worker action has stalled deliveries and resulted in limited inventory at stores.

Tom Trainor told Boston.com he has been fired. Trainor, a long-time district manager with the company, has been one of the leaders of the protest movement. Trainor told Boston.com his firing was served by courier.

“This is not unexpected,” Trainor told Boston.com.

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Market Basket employees also say warehouse leader Dean Joyce has been fired.

Employees circulated an email on social media said to be from co-CEO Felicia Thornton announcing Joyce’s firing to managers. The Boston Globe is also reporting the firing.

According to that report, Joyce had been at the company for 34 years and even met his wife at the job.

Thornton and co-CEO James Gooch had said in a letter to employees last week that any employees who “abandon” their jobs would be “permanently replaced.” Joyce leads the company’s warehouse operations, which have been slowed since an employee rally on Friday.

Trainor told Boston.com that other management level employees involved in the employee protests have been fired, including Steve Paulenka, who emceed at the Friday rally, operations supervisor Joe Schmidt, grocery supervisor Tom Gordon, and grocery buyers Joe Garon and Jim Lacourse. Each has worked for Market Basket for more than 25 years. Trainor has been with the company for 41. All had been active in the movement to re-install former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

A spokesperson for Market Basket on Sunday confirmed the firings through a brief statement, which read in part:

“Their actions continued to harm the company, negatively impacted customers, and inhibited associates’ ability to perform their jobs.”

At the Friday rally in support of Demoulas, employees said they planned to stunt deliveries until Demoulas is re-instated by the company’s board. Demoulas was fired last month by the board, which is controlled by his rival and cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. The tension dates back decades and is the result of long-standing infighting between the two sides of the family over control of the company and how it is run.

Market Basket trucks were seen on the roads this weekend. On social media, employees are saying the company has brought in replacement drivers to make deliveries today. It is unclear which stores have received deliveries, and how each store is handling them. At Friday’s rally, employees said existing stock at stores likely would not last a week.

Steve Paulenka, who has assumed a leadership role in the Market Basket employee movement, told Boston.com Friday that he expected headquarters to try and make deliveries despite worker actions. He said he was skeptical that untrained workers would handle the process as efficiently as normal warehouse workers are able to.

Several Boston.com sources, from stores across the region, have said their stocks have fallen off significantly. Produce and seafood departments, they say, have been the first to show big gaps on store floors, while other perishable items like meat and dairy would likely come next. Boston.com’s Adam Vaccaro visited two Market Basket stores on Saturday and saw the produce sections to be the most heavily impacted. Photos from employees on social media have shown much the same.

Meanwhile, 17 state lawmakers signed a letter urging a boycott of Market Basket stores and expressing support for employees, The Boston Globe reports.

Attorney General Martha Coakley on Sunday echoed that political chorus, saying “The actions of thousands of Market Basket employees over the last days have been truly inspiring.”

Market Basket employee groups have not strongly called for a customer boycott, and some employees have asked customers on social media to continue to shop until the stores are empty.

However, many employees seemed grateful for the officials’ support, sharing and “liking” the Globe article on Facebook. One store manager the Globe spoke with called the politicians’ support “awesome.”

Employees plan to rally at the Tewskbury Market Basket Monday.

Scenes from Market Basket stores this weekend: