DeMoulas Fires Protest Organizers, Sen. Finegold Urges Boycott Of Market Basket
Jul 21, 2014 12:37AM
● By Bill Gilman
Steve Paulenka, a facilities and operations supervisor for DeMoulas Supermarket, Inc., was one of the longtime employees fired over the weekend for his part in organizing the protests.
State Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, a candidate for State Treasurer, began a petition over the weekend, calling for a boycott of Market Basket until workers demands are met.
“We, the undersigned, stand today with the thousands of Market Basket employees who have walked out of their jobs in protest of the firing of their beloved CEO Arthur T. Demoulas,” read the first part of the petition.
""They're not asking to the higher wages. They're not asking for benefits for them, Finegold told Ch. 7 News. "They are asking for their company, that they built, to continue on the same direction."
At least 2,500 DeMoulas/Market Basket employees from throughout the state showed up at the company's Tewksbury headquarters last week for a rally to protest the firing of former CEO Arthur T DeMoulas and two other top executives and "Artie T" loyalists. The firings, which took place earlier this year, came as part of a power struggle between cousins Arthur T. and Arthur S. Demoulas over control of the company started by their grandfather.
Arthur S. recently gained enough votes on the Board of Directors to seize control of the comapny, fire his cousin and install Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch as co-CEOs.
Among the dozens of state politicians to back Finegold's boycott effort is Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democratic candidate for governor this fall. Coakley released a statement that read:
“The actions of thousands of Market Basket employees over the last days have been truly inspiring. They are putting their jobs on the line—with little or no protection from reprisals from current management—to stand up for the simple principle that workers deserve to be treated with respect and their voices deserve to be heard. I hope the current management of Market Basket will respect these voices and that these employees will able to make their case without losing their jobs or their hard earned benefits. Market Basket has been a great employer and community partner for decades and I hope those values are maintained.”
Meanwhile, DeMoulas senior management made good on their threat to start firing employees not reporting for work or failing to do their jobs as part of the protest. Over the weekend, Gooch and Thornton fired 10 employees, including seven who had been organizers of the rally protest.
Tom Trainor, of the longtime managers fired by courier over the weekend, posted a letter on the web page wearemarketbasket.com . It reads, in part,
"I was fired today after 41 loyal and great years with DSM. I was fired by a courier at my home with my wife and youngest daughter watching. Along with myself there have been several other men fired the same way, men that I have the utmost respect for (in order of years served), Joe Garon 49 years, Tom Gordon 40 years, Steve Paulenka 40 years, Jim Lacourse 35 years, Dean Joyce 35 years, Joe Schmidt 27 years and Mike Kettenbach 13 years. A total of 280 years of experience, loyalty, dedication and love for the company.In response to the firings, DeMoulas/Market Basket management issued the following statement, which included a veiled threat at other employees thinking of continuing the protest.
"It wasn’t unexpected. When I started this fight over a year ago I knew the risk but I also knew that I was fighting for something much bigger than myself. I was fighting for my MB family, for Arthur T Demoulas a man that I have tremendous respect, loyalty and admiration for. A man that I would run through a wall for. I have no regrets. I would do it all over again and I leave the company I love with my head held high in the knowledge that there wasn’t a single thing more that I could have done."
“Market Basket management confirmed that certain individuals are no longer with the company as of today. Their actions continued to harm the company, negatively impacted customers, and inhibited associates’ ability to perform their jobs.”
Another employees' rally is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning (Monday, July 21) at the company headquarters on East Street in Tewksbury.