Haverhill Market Basket Working with ‘Skeleton Crew’

Market Basket, Central Plaza, Haverhill.

UPDATE: Haverhill’s Central Plaza location of Market Basket reported Friday “only a skeleton crew” of employees were on hand, according to a store manager. Others chose to attend a rally in support of ousted president and CEO Arthur T. Demoulas at the chain’s Tewksbury headquarters.

The manager, who requested anonymity, also said the company’s warehouses are not currently staffed. Eventually, he added, stores will begin running out of products.

A group of workers for the Market Basket supermarket chain is vowing to “save our company and what it means to everyone involved.” The group known as “Save Market Basket” and others may be putting their jobs on the line by holding a rally Friday at the company’s Tewksbury headquarters in support of ousted Arthur T. Demoulas.

The gathering was organized after current company executives on Thursday did not meet demands by a group of company managers and others for the unconditional full reinstatement of Arthur T. Demoulas. In a letter released Thursday, new co-executives Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch warn that employees who abandon their job or refuse to perform job requirements will lead the company to “permanently replace” them.

In a Facebook posting Friday morning, the workers group says “We have decided the we cannot sit back and be silent as they steer this ship headlong into the iceberg.” They allege the board action is “the start of a process which will lead to the dismantling of Market Basket as we know it for the enrichment of a few shareholders.” “Save Market Basket” also says what they’re doing is unprecedented, but believe what they are doing is “not only right but also achievable.”

Arthur T. Demoulas and two other executives were removed by the company’s board of directors last month in an ongoing, years-long family dispute over control of the Market Basket supermarket empire.

The full text of the letter from employees to customers is below:

To Our Customers

To our valued customers,

We write to you in the hopes that you will understand our actions that we have taken today. Every day that we go to work it is with you in mind and today is no different.

We love our company. Together we have built one of the greatest business models in the country. A rare place where everybody wins: the associates get great benefits and excellent wages along with the promise that with hard work you will be promoted; the customers get the best customer service, the best values and the best selection and the best prices; the communities we serve see the creation of hundreds of jobs; the shareholders possess an asset which has been unstoppable in its growth.

Now we come to this. We are determined to save our company and what it means to everyone involved. We firmly believe that the firing of Arthur T. Demoulas and his management team is simply the start of a process which will lead to the dismantling of Market Basket as we know it for the enrichment of a few shareholders. This process will involve the selling of real estate assets, the raising of prices in order to increase profits and more changes in the makeup of leadership. Arthur S. Demoulas is bent on destroying all that we hold dear about this company to satisfy his unrelenting desire for money and revenge.

We have decided that we cannot sit back and be silent as they steer this ship headlong into the iceberg. To do so would have us be complicit in their plan. We are resolved to do what we can to stop them and take our company back. What we are doing is unprecedented so therefore we have no blueprint to follow or business school lesson to refer to. Some may think we are naive and maybe we are. Perhaps that naivete works in our favor as it allows us to believe that what we are doing is not only right but also achievable. We hope to become the precedent, the blueprint and the business school lesson! We are scared, but not as scared as we are of their ruinous plan.

We reach out to you today asking for your understanding and support. We do not enter this decision lightly and it comes after much deliberation. We are each risking much personally in order to save something so much bigger than any one of us. While we take action at headquarters, your store will inevitably feel the consequences of these as you shop. Please understand that this consequence weighs most heavily on us and we will make it up to you when we get back on track.

We would love for any and all of you to be at our side. For those wishing to show support, please join us Friday, July 18th at 875 East Street, Tewksbury.

We will be there until we get our company back.

The company’s response appears below.