By Andrea Simons and Joey Del Ponte
For much of the week, shoppers have witnessed an unsettling silence along with empty aisles in the normally bustling Somerville Avenue Market Basket. The real kinetic energy has been outside the store, where employees at Market Basket have held signs and picketed in a continuing protest throughout the locations of the recent firing of Arthur T. Demoulas, former CEO of Market Basket.
Employees and customers fear that the new CEOs will drive up prices of the traditionally affordable supermarket chain, and possibly fire loyal employees that have worked there for years, in addition to those who already have been terminated.
Protesters ask that customers boycott Market Basket until their former CEO is reinstated. During the protest, Market Basket’s warehouse and offices will be closed eventually causing them to run out of items.
Workers and supporters held signs shaming “corporate greed” and supporting their old CEO, affectionately calling him their “true and only leader.” Obama-style posters of Demoulas’ face were displayed around the supermarket with the phrase “I BELIEVE” written underneath. Protesters asked would-be customers to participate in the boycott by shopping at Shaw’s or other local supermarkets and applauded people for leaving empty-handed.
Younger employees and part-time workers are significantly less affected but still show their support by participating in the protests and promoting the boycott. Peter Firek of Haverhill, an 18-year-old part-time employee, supports the endeavor even though he is leaving for college in September and remains relatively affected by the CEO change. Like many other supporters, Firek promotes the cause in support of the decade long employees whose jobs are being threatened and the beloved CEO.
“Save Market Basket” organizers are planning to hold there largest collective rally this Friday in hopes of forcing the reinstatement of Arthur T. Demoulas.