Governor: Grocery chain fight at ‘critical point’

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)

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick said Wednesday he was hopeful that a family fight over the Market Basket grocery store chain that has sparked an employee walkout and a customer boycott can be resolved soon.

Patrick told reporters he was hoping to speak with warring cousins Arthur T. Demoulas, who was ousted as CEO in June, and Arthur S. Demoulas as negotiations reached a “critical point,” with the immediate future of the company and its employees possibly hanging in the balance.

“Nobody wants to have the business remain on its knees this way. Nobody wants to have the people who work for Market Basket out of work especially the rank and file folks who are the folks most in jeopardy,” the governor said after appearing at an unrelated event in Greenfield.

Patrick said his understanding was that the company has continued to pay people for the time they’ve worked.

“(But) if they don’t have customers to serve or supplies to sell that becomes a bigger and bigger problem,” he said.

The 71-store New England chain has lost tens of millions of dollars since warehouse workers walked off their jobs last month to protest the firing of Arthur T. Demoulas. He has offered to buy out his cousin and other family members, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement.

Patrick and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan met with the cousins and other company officials for several hours last weekend.

Hassan remains in close contact with Patrick but doesn’t have any meetings planned with the Demoulas cousins, her spokesman William Hinkle said.

Patrick said there were “a lot of complicated issues and a lot of history.” But, he said, “There is still a sense that a resolution is getting closer.”

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