Workers at the troubled New England supermarket chain Market Basket are planning a huge rally to step up pressure on management to reinstate their former chief executive or accept his offer to buy the company.
Employees who have organized massive protests over the past two weeks say they are expecting up to 15,000 employees, customers and supporters to attend a rally Tuesday outside a Market Basket store in Tewksbury.
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The family-owned chain has been in turmoil since June, when a board controlled by Arthur S. Demoulas fired his cousin, CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.
Hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers who support Arthur T. Demoulas have refused to deliver food to the chain's 71 stores, leaving store shelves severely depleted and prompting customers to defect to other supermarkets.
Workers are hoping Arthur S. Demoulas' side of the family will accept an offer from his cousin to buy the company, which is known for its low prices.
The two co-CEOs appointed to replace Arthur T. Demoulas on Monday stepped up their efforts to fight back against the workers' revolt and customer boycott.
Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said they heard from many employees who are "concerned for their safety" if they attend a job fair, which began Monday and is scheduled to continue through Wednesday. They said they would allow employees to apply for new jobs through email because they feel "associates interested in opportunity should be given an opportunity without fear of intimidation or harassment."
But organizers of the protests said they believe that few, if any, Market Basket employees will attend the job fair.
Steve Paulenka, one of eight supervisors fired last month, said that about 200 employees and customers protested peacefully outside the job fair Monday.