TEWKSBURY, Mass. (AP) — Thousands of workers and customers at the troubled Market Basket supermarket chain shouted "Bring him back!" Tuesday at a boisterous rally designed to pressure management to reinstate the company's fired chief executive or accept his offer to buy the New England chain.
The rally outside a Market Basket store in Tewksbury was the fourth large demonstration workers have held since Arthur T. Demoulas was fired in June by a board controlled by his cousin and rival, Arthur S. Demoulas.
Over the last two weeks, hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers have refused to make deliveries to the family-owned chain's 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, leaving stock severely depleted and prompting customers to shop at other grocery stores. The Market Basket chain, based in Tewksbury, is known for its low prices.
The rally had the atmosphere of an outdoor rock festival, as participants threw beach balls high in the air and music blasted from large speakers set up along the parking lot.
Workers carried signs with blown-up photographs of Arthur T. Demoulas, while loyal shoppers carried signs saying, "We are the customers. We quit."
"We shall never back down ... we shall not rest until Arthur T. Demoulas is brought back as our president," Joe Schmidt told the crowd. Schmidt was one of eight middle managers fired by the company after they organized the first protests.
Workers hope that Arthur S. Demoulas' side of the family will accept an offer from his cousin to buy the company. The board has said it is considering that offer as well as others.
Steve Distasio, manager of the Market Basket store in Raynham, spent his day off attending the rally with his two children and his niece. He said 30 to 40 other workers at his store also came.
"We're here to support Artie T.," he said. "It's the only way to get the company back and running right."
T.J. Cauley, an assistant produce manager at a Market Basket store in Seabrook, N.H., said he has been protesting outside his store with other workers on his breaks and days off for the past two weeks. He said he knows he could end up losing his job.
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