Market Basket promotes job fair to replace protesting workers

States remind Market Basket of workers' rights

Market Basket employees Rees Gemmell, far right, and colleagues acknowledge passing supporters as they picket in front of the supermarket Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Haverhill, Mass. A decades-long family feud, which brought about the ouster of Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO of the privately held company, led to a worker revolt, customer boycotts and empty shelves in the grocery chain's stores in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. More than 100 Massachusetts legislators and mayors, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan have publicly supported the employees. (AP Photo)

TEWKSBURY, Mass. – (NBC News/AP) – Embattled Massachusetts supermarket chain, Market Basket, took out full page newspaper ads promoting a job fair, sending a clear message to protesting employees that if they do not return to work they could be replaced.

Executives with the supermarket chain made good on an ultimatum with a full-page ad announcing a three-day job fair calling for new store directors and other management positions. Starting Monday, anyone who doesn’t come to work runs the risk of being replaced. The move prompted the crowd of protesters to grow outside the company headquarters in Tewksbury.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire officials are telling the Market Basket supermarket chain they’ll be looking out for the legal rights of any workers fired in a protest over the family-owned company’s leadership.

Attorneys General Martha Coakley and Joseph Foster also urged the company Thursday to consider its impact on other businesses in the region, where it employs about 25,000 and has 71 stores.

Co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said they “hope sincerely” not to fire anyone and they’ll follow the law. They said Wednesday workers off the job demanding the return of fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas must return by Monday.

Demoulas’ supporters have held protest rallies and shut down deliveries to stores. Employees said they will continue to protest outside of the store, and outside the job fair as well.

The company’s board is evaluating buyout offers, including one from Demoulas. He was fired by the board which is controlled by his cousin.

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