Demoulas Offer Doesn’t Change Protester Plans

Market Basket protest organizers called Arthur T. Demoulas’s offer to buy the chain “good news” for their efforts Thursday morning, but said it will have no effect on plans to rally and further encourage a boycott at stores.

“Our message is unchanged,” said Steve Paulenka, a former facilities supervisor with the company who was fired over the weekend after helping to lead the employee movement.

A chalk board outside of the Somerville Market Basket.
The Boston Globe

The message he refers to has been a consistent one since Demoulas was fired in June, and has been oft-repeated at employee rallies over the past month: “Bring him back.”

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Demoulas announced his offer to buy out family members last night, a plan that would thereby give him control of Market Basket and possibly serve as a resolution to the decades of family infighting that has engulfed the company.

But Tom Trainor, who was also fired Sunday for helping to helm the employee movement, said the buy-out offer is a shareholder issue. Protesters’ focus remains on the company’s board of directors, who are appointed by shareholders and who would be the ones to vote to reinstate Demoulas. “It’s not clear (a deal) would actually happen,” Trainor said. “And if it did, it could take months.”

Trainor touches on a crucial point with Demoulas’s offer. Arthur T. and his cousin Arthur S., who currently has control of the company, have been at the heart of a decades-long rivalry that could just as easily be the plot of an HBO program. While Arthur T. has made an offer, The Boston Globe notes that it’s unclear whether it will even be seriously entertained by his nemesis and other family members.

Trainor and Paulenka said customers are still encouraged to boycott and employees to rally outside of stores. Organizers are still calling for a mass rally in Tewksbury on Friday—the same day as the board of directors’ next meeting. “We’re staying the course,” Trainor said. “It doesn’t change anything right now.”

Asked if the calls at the rally would shift at all from “Bring him back” to “Let him buy,” Paulenka said: “It’s the same thing.”

Check out more Boston.com coverage of the Market Basket saga here.