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Market Basket’s Empty Shelves Force Shoppers To Other Stores

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SOMERVILLE (CBS/AP) – Picketers aren’t stopping shoppers outside several local Market Basket supermarkets, but the empty shelves inside are driving many away.

Thousands of employees continue to rally for the reinstatement of fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.  He was fired last month by a board controlled by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.  Both are grandsons of the chain’s founder and their feud dates back decades.

Warehouse deliveries to Market Basket stores have stopped during the protests and there’s no word yet when store shelves will be re-stocked.

“Sales are starting to go lower and lower, because we don’t have a lot of the essentials customers are looking for,” Scott Burke, the assistant store manager in Somerville told WBZ-TV Tuesday.

Empty shelves and counters like this one in Somerville are becoming more common at Market Basket. (WBZ-TV)

Empty shelves and counters like this one in Somerville are becoming more common at Market Basket. (WBZ-TV)

Eight workers were fired over the weekend for participating in the protests demanding Arthur T. Demoulas’ re-instatement.  Some of them had more than four decades with the Tewksbury-based chain, which has 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

About 70 truck drivers deliver food for Market Basket. Truckers outside the supermarket chain’s Tewksbury distribution warehouse told WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager that all but four of them have traded their trucks for this protest line.

A replacement truck driver was greeted with a sign at a store loading dock advising him that deliveries were not being accepted.

Keller @ Large: Can Market Basket Survive?

“We’re not receiving any orders, not taking any deliveries, until Arthur T. Demoulas is back to his full status as CEO,” said store manager Joe Amaral.

In his first public statement since he was fired as CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas urged the family-owned company Monday to re-instate the fired workers.

“In the final analysis, this is not about me. It is about the people who have proven their dedication over many years and should not have lost their jobs because of it.”  Demoulas said.

In a statement released Tuesday, Market Basket co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said in part, “The success of Market Basket and the loyalty of both its associates and customers is indeed the result of the dedication and hard work of thousands, from all ranks of the company.

“Our cashiers and store associates are as important as senior executives. The individuals who were terminated took significant actions that harmed the company and therefore compromised Market Basket’s ability to be there for our customers. We took the difficult step of termination only after we saw no alternative.”

Some Massachusetts legislators have called for a boycott of the company, led by state Sen. Barry Finegold, who represents the district in which Tewksbury headquarters are located.

Picketers outside the Market Basket in Somerville. (WBZ-TV)

Picketers outside the Market Basket in Somerville. (WBZ-TV)

Governor Deval Patrick told reporters Tuesday he won’t get involved.

“I want economic peace in the Commonwealth, but that is a private dispute, as far as I can tell, among private family members in a private company.  No, I don’t have a comment about it,” he said.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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