Market Basket Employee: ‘Our Company Is Crumbling'

Customers deserting barren Market Basket stores as "Artie T" protests continue for 18th day

Market Basket employees stressed they were at work on Monday at many of the New England grocery store chain's 71 stores - but it was the customers who weren't returning.

"The business is hurting. Our company is crumbling," Rob Harrington, a front-end manager at the Market Basket store in Burlington, said Monday afternoon. "We're doing no business. The customer is 100 percent behind us in this boycott. That's what this is all about. It's the customers that are supporting us."

Employees have urged shoppers to boycott the stores until Arthur T. Demoulas, fired June 23 after allies of his cousin-turned-rival Arthur S. Demoulas gained voting control over the board, is reinstated as CEO.

New co-CEOs Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton's deadline for missing workers to return or be fired was on Monday.

Aside from delivery drivers and warehouse workers, it's unclear how many of the chain's 25,000 employees have actually stopped working and how many are just protesting on days off or before or after shifts or during breaks.

John Garon, another manager at the Burlington store, said the Thornton-Gooch "go back to work" order has nothing to do with workers.

"We've been coming in and doing our jobs every day. Some people like to say that we haven't been, but we're finding a million things to clean inside. We're painting the walls in the back room and in the bathrooms. We're finding a lot of busy work to do," he said.

The 71 Market Basket stores gross, on average, $85 million a week. Garon said the Burlington store had sales down 92 percent last week, losing just over $1.8 million in sales.

"We're here every single day waiting for the customers, and the customers are waiting for the same thing that we're ultimately all waiting for, and that's the return of Artie T.," he said.

With videographer Rich Mazzarella

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