TEWKSBURY -- A plan by Market Basket workers to get their old CEO Arthur T. Demoulas back now has become an ultimatum to their new bosses.
Employees loyal to Demoulas have become so outspoken against the new management that this week they've posted signs and posters pledging their loyalty to the former leader inside the chain's main office -- right in the faces of new co-CEOs Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton, who were appointed by the board of directors last month.
A letter dated Wednesday addressed to Gooch and Thornton says Market Basket workers "demand" the return of Demoulas "with full authority, non-negotiable."
"A non-answer will be considered a no," the letter says. The letter also gives a deadline of a Thursday afternoon meeting at 4:30 at the Tewksbury offices to hear a response.
"We will not work for anyone but ATD," the employees wrote, referring to Demoulas. Employees have said the headquarters has a few hundred workers.
Only the board of directors has the authority to re-appoint Demoulas to CEO, Gooch and Thornton said in a statement. They said they've forwarded the request from employees to the board.
Keith Cowan, the board's chairman, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
"This morning, several employees informed us that they require an answer on their demands by the end of day tomorrow," the executives said Wednesday.
"When we attempted to acknowledge their concern and respond on the status of the request, these employees instead left the meeting," they said. "We also are aware of a memo they issued, although it was not immediately given to us by these employees. This behavior is not appropriate nor is it in keeping with Market Basket's culture of respect."
The board of directors removed Demoulas as CEO last month. In court documents, some shareholders affiliated with the competing side of the Demoulas family have said the CEO had a "dictatorial" management philosophy, was "openly defiant" of the board, and withheld information from directors, among other complaints.
Many of Market Basket's more than 20,000 employees have demonstrated their allegiance to Arthur T., including at a series of rallies over the past year.
"You're the best," Demoulas shouted to employees who rallied for more than 12 hours outside a directors meeting in Andover last July. "I never want to leave you."
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