(Gloucester Daily Times (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 09--Three Market Basket board members this morning accused ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas of holding customers and employees hostage in his bid to buy the remainder of the company, as the stalemate over the chain's future and both sides' statements continued to grow more confrontation.
The war of statements erupted late Friday afternoon when the three board members, Keith O. Cowan, Eric Gebaide and Ronald G. Weiner, announced an offer to bring Demoulas and his management team on in a limited role to assist rebuilding the company after widespread boycotts and protests hobbled the 71-store supermarket chain.
Demoulas on Friday immediately rejected the bid, insisting he would only accept his return as CEO while negotiations over a sale of the company continue. Employees and customers have demanded Demoulas return with full authority as chief executive.
"Twenty five thousand associates and two million customers shouldn't be held hostage for a business deal between shareholders," the board members said in the statement. "We all need to get back to work, stock our shelves and allow our customers to return to shop. Clearly, each side has sets of proposals to solve the impasse -- there are enough proposed solutions out there to begin a serious negotiation."
They accused Demoulas of using his employees and loyal customers as leverage to secure an agreement to buy out his cousin, efforts that have failed several times over the last few years.
With empty shelves, very few stock deliveries and virtually no customers in the stores, the company this past week cut virtually all scheduling hours for its thousands of part-time workers, including more than 200 at its Gloucester store alone. State officials, meanwhile, are scrambling to shift staffers to deal with what they expect will be a flood of applications and eligibility questions from those workers seeking unemployment compensation in the days ahead.
"It is wrong to hold everyone hostage to gain a negotiation advantage," the three directors said in their Saturday morning statement. "Let's end the hostage-taking and get together to work at finding common ground. We are ready meet, anytime, anywhere."
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Statement of the Independent Directors of the Demoulas Board of Directors 8.9
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