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Market Basket workers told to return by Friday

Demoulas Super Market’s co-CEOs on Tuesday said they have sent letters to some 200 headquarters and warehouse employees informing them they will lose their jobs if they don’t return to work by this Friday.

The letter, excerpts of which were posted online Tuesday, were sent only to those employees that have failed to report to work since July 17 at headquarters and the distribution center, a company spokesman said. The walkouts — in protest of the June removal of company president Arthur T. Demoulas —have slowed business at the company’s 71 stores to a trickle, according to sources.

“Since July 17, approximately 200 associates who work at headquarters and the distribution centers have failed to report to work, despite several company communications requesting they do so,” the spokesman said. “The company has not taken any action in response to their absence, but is left with no choice but to make this last request. The company will of course follow all applicable laws should these associates choose to abandon their positions.”

According to the text of letters posted at We Are Market Basket web page, operated by protesting workers, the letter from co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said: “We are writing one final time, to invite you to return to work and perform your job obligations. If your role requires that you primarily work at the company’s headquarters or distribution facilities, you must return to such role ready to fulfill your duties by no later than Friday, August 15, 2014. Alternatively, if your job is based in the field, you are required to return to work and contact either of us prior to August 15 to review the work you are performing. Should you choose to ignore either of these directives, the company will consider you to have abandoned your job, thereby ending your employment with the company.


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“We look forward to your return so that we can resume our efforts to fulfill our customer’s needs.”

The letter introduces still more pressure on the company’s battling family owners who are in the midst of negotiating a deal to sell the chain. Shareholders led by Arthur T. Demoulas said they have agreed on a price to buy the shares they do not own, but the deal has been held up as a result of “onerous terms” insisted upon by the selling shareholders. Demoulas has also so far rejected a standing offer to return to work collaboratively with existing management to stabilize the company while negotiations continue.

A message posted on the We Are Market Basket web site dismissed the letter as an attempt to “divide us and conquer us.”

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