Market Basket employee Eastman Thayer, of Lowell, pickets outside the company’s job fair Monday at 340 Ballardvale St., Andover.Sun / Bob WhitakerSun
Market Basket employee Eastman Thayer, of Lowell, pickets outside the company's job fair Monday at 340 Ballardvale St., Andover. Sun / Bob Whitaker

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Market Basket and hundreds of its protesting employees had another face-off on Monday, as many workers said they refused to give in to a company-imposed deadline of returning to work without penalty.

For those who haven't returned to work -- who have largely been using vacation or sick time to avoid their job duties -- the company said it will advertise for their positions, including store managers and some headquarters jobs.

Employees protested on Monday, first outside the Tewksbury headquarters and then outside the company's Andover warehouse, where a three-day job fair began in the afternoon. Very few vehicles were driving in and out of the property, but the company had said earlier in the day it would accept applications by email if anyone was worried about their safety at the fair.

"We have heard from many associates who are interested in applying for internal positons, but are concerned for their safety if they attend the scheduled Job Fair," co-CEOs Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton said in the statement. "In response to their concerns, we are making available an email address to which associates can apply."

Supporters of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas said they were confident that few Market Basket workers would show up looking to take the jobs of those who've been standing up for Demoulas.

"No one is going to show up," said Thayer Eastman, a diesel mechanic for the company who said he was locked out of his job on July 17.

Eastman was among dozens who marched in circles around the entrance to Market Basket's perishables warehouse on Ballardvale Street.


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For the few cars that did pass through, they would heckle the driver. Some, including one woman who rubbed her fingers and thumbs together to make a money sign, pulled in only to turn around a moment later.

Monday and today's job fairs were for Market Basket employees only. Wednesday's job fair, which will run from 1 to 8 p.m., will be for the general public to apply.

Workers were still holding out for the return of Demoulas, two and a half weeks after boycotts began as a way to pressure the company's board of directors to reinstate him. Demoulas has also made an offer to buy out the 50.5 percent of the company his side of the family does not own. The board has said it is still considering multiple sale options.

"We're not going back until Arthur T. is back," Rosie Hagopian, an administrative assistant who has worked at Market Basket for 41 years, said at a rally of a few hundred people at the Tewksbury headquarters.

Another large-scale rally is planned for Tuesday starting at 11 a.m. at Stadium Plaza in Tewksbury.

Customers have also rallied for the return of Demoulas, including Melissa Smithurst, who traveled from Sandown, N.H. She said she was supporting friends who work for the company, and described the reason for her devotion as a shopper as simple.

"I believe in the business model," she said.

Market Basket has been losing what many current and former workers estimated to be around $10 million a day since the boycott began July 18. Ron Lambert, a manager at the Hudson, Mass., store, estimated his location has lost 95 percent of its business in recent days.

"It's like during a snowstorm," he said. "No one was there."

About two and a half weeks into the boycott, Market Basket may have a very difficult time breaking even for the year, said Jon Springer, an associate editor of Supermarket News.

"They're giving business every day to Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Shaw's," he said. "It's got to be really devastating to the stores."

The pro-Demoulas website We Are Market Basket listed reasons why people shouldn't apply for jobs at the chain, and criticized the job fair.

"This Job Fair/Farce is simply a tactic to scare current associates that are off the job," it said. "By the way, none of those associates went back inside today despite the threat of being fired."

Management previously said it would take employees back as late as Monday without penalty.

"We understand that some associates may choose not to return," it said, "consequently we will begin advertising for employment opportunities."

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