Market Basket to Hold Off on Replacing Workers as Negotiations Continue

Danvers, MA - 08\13/14 - Market Basket in Danvers. Lane Turner/Globe Staff Section: MAG Reporter: thea breite can write? Slug: 082414marketbasket
Shareholders have not yet reached an agreement on a sale of Market Basket.
Lane Turner/Globe Staff

As negotiations over a possible sale of Market Basket to Arthur T. Demoulas and his family stretch into the week, management will continue to hold off on taking action against protesting workers, a company spokesperson told Boston.com.

At a board meeting last week, co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch agreed not to fire employees or close stores as negotiations continued. And governors Deval Patrick and Maggie Hassan, of Massachusetts and New Hampshire respectively, said in a statement Friday that workers who had walked off the job would not be replaced “subject to (the negotiating parties) reducing an agreement in principle to writing by Sunday.”

According to the spokesperson, Market Basket management will continue to sit tight for the time being, and will not hire to replace protesting workers. Warehouse and office employees who walked out on July 18 have not responded to two deadlines from management to return to their positions despite warnings that they would be replaced.

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Store managers have also been told this week to schedule full-time staff for normal hours as the company awaits its fate.

Meanwhile, part-time workers, who have seen their hours cut to nil, are receiving calls from store managers in preparation for their return to work should an agreement be reached.

The Lowell Sun reports workers across the organization will need to move fast to restock stores and return business operations to normal if and when the weeks-long supermarket standoff ends. That flows with what John Sevastis, who leads one of Market Basket’s Fitchburg stores, told Boston.com about two weeks ago. “When this ends, the celebration will last about five minutes,” Sevastis said.

A planned board meeting for 10 p.m. Sunday night to discuss the deal was called off a few hours before it was set to be held by telephone. The two sides of the Demoulas family were still talking terms as of Sunday afternoon, according to a source. When and whether a deal will be reached remains up in the air, but the sides were thought to be close on Friday.

Many thought the weekend would prove climactic, but the Market Basket ordeal has been filled with deadlines and ultimatums that have come and gone to varying effect.

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