Milford Market Basket supports Arthur T

MILFORD – The ongoing internal conflict in the Market Basket supermarket company was obvious in the Milford store Monday morning where there were signs supporting the ousted CEO on empty shelves in the fish, beef and produce departments.

Deliveries from the chain’s Massachusetts warehouse stopped on July 17, said Mike Needle, the Milford store’s assistant store manager, and now the approximately 350 local employees are trying to stay positive.

On the customer service counter is a petition asking for support of employees’ push to bring back Arthur T. DeMoulas, who was fired in June by a board controlled by his cousin and rival Arthur S. DeMoulas.

There was no fresh fish in the fish counters, but there was a letter from the employees’ association saying “we cannot sit back and be silent as they steer this ship headlong into the iceberg. 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.”

Outside the store on a chalkboard where the day’s specials are usually posted was a message of support for Arthur T.

Needle, who has worked for the Milford store for 14 years, called employees’ show of loyalty a ”payback” for the loyalty of not only Arthur T., but also Arthur T.’s father. Both men supported their employees over the years, he said.

At least eight of the chain’s employees were fired Sunday as a result of the July 18 protest rally at the DeMoulas’ headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass.

Needle called the current situation “scary,” but did not think Milford employees’ jobs were in jeopardy because they have all kept on working.

For decades Arthur T. and Arthur S. have feuded over control of the company founded by their grandfather, but never before has it been so public, and the conflict has attracted the attention of politicians. According to the Boston Globe, more than two dozen of them have pledged to support a boycott of Market Basket.

Employees have described Arthur T. as like a family member who cares for their well-being, going as far as attending wakes and funerals when employees’ loved ones die.

The New England supermarket chain has 25,000 employees in 71 stores in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

Market Basket management has said the fired employees’ actions have harmed the company and its customers.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at or 673-3100, ext. 304.