BOSTON (AP) — As the beleaguered Market Basket supermarket chain prepared Monday to replace workers protesting the firing of their popular leader, the ousted CEO offered to return to work to stabilize the company while negotiations continue over his bid to buy the New England chain.
The offer from Arthur T. Demoulas came as employees who walked off their jobs to support him face a Monday deadline to return to work or risk being replaced. Demoulas offered on Sunday to take control of the business and reinstate eight top managers who were fired for organizing the protest over his ouster.
The company’s board of directors, however, reaffirmed its support for two co-chief executives who were appointed to replace Demoulas. The company has scheduled a three-day job fair, beginning Monday.
In full-page ads taken out in the region’s newspapers last week, the company said it will attempt to recruit store directors, assistant directors, grocery buyers, perishable buyers and accountants.
Hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers have refused to make deliveries over the past two weeks, leading to severely depleted store shelves and a boycott by customers who support the workers and Arthur T. Demoulas, who was fired in June by a board controlled by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.
Market Basket, known for its low prices, has 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
Steve Paulenka, one of the eight fired managers, said a group of Market Basket employees and supporters plan to attend the job fair late Monday, a session set aside for current employees to apply for other jobs within the company.
“I think they’re going to be shocked. They’re going to find out they aren’t many of us that look at this as an opportunity,” Paulenka said. “I think they’ll be surprised when nobody shows up.”
Paulenka said store directors and assistant directors have not left their jobs and have kept their stores running.
“Those stores have been open. It’s not their fault that they don’t have a lick of chicken, a stalk of celery or a yogurt in their stores,” Paulenka said. “Why do you post a full-page ad to replace people who have been going to work every day?”
The feud between the two factions of the Demoulas family goes back decades, but this is the first time the infighting has had a widespread impact on the company’s stores.