BIDDEFORD — As thousands gathered in at the main office for the Market Basket grocery chain in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, employees at the lone Maine store in Biddeford carried on at a much smaller scale, protesting outside the store at The Shops at Biddeford Crossing.

Protests against the firing of the New England grocery chain’s former CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, began about two weeks ago.

Since then, there have been several large rallies. Employees at the individual 71 stores have conducted their own activities to show their loyalty for Arthur T. and educate customers who aren’t familiar with what’s going on.

On Friday, Biddeford Store Assistant Manager David Snook said there wasn’t much new to report in Biddeford, other than the first receipt of groceries since the protests began from a Market Basket warehouse. The delivery occurred Friday, more than one week late.

There were canned goods and the like in the truck, he said, no perishables, so the shelves that used to hold produce, fresh seafood and meat are still bare.

It was about two weeks ago when warehouse workers and drivers, along with people in the corporate office, walked off the job. They’ve stated publicly that they won’t return until Arthur T. is reinstated.

The beloved former Market Basket head was ousted by the company’s board of directors in June, after he lost control of the board to his rival and cousin Arthur S. Demoulas.

Arthur T. has put in a bid to purchase all the shares of the company; his side of the family currently owns 49.5 percent. The board has been meeting throughout the week, considering his and other offers for the grocery store chain, which was valued before the strike began at more than $3 billion, according to industry analysts.

Attorneys have recently gotten involved in the saga. On Thursday, the attorneys general for Massachusetts and New Hampshire sent a letter to Market Basket leadership reminding them to follow the law when it comes to terminating employees.

Earlier this week, co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch sent out a statement that employees who don’t return to work by Monday will be fired and that new associates would be hired.

On Friday, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills sent an email statement to the Journal Tribune, which said, “While this office was not approached by the other state attorneys general, I share their concern that workers should be treated fairly under the law during this ongoing dispute. This office will work with the Maine Department of Labor to ensure that workers’ rights are protected.”

Snook said Biddeford workers didn’t leave their jobs, so they shouldn’t be affected.

In addition, an attorney for eight upper management staff members who were loyal to Arthur T. and were fired sent a letter to the CEOs and board President Keith Cowan. Attorney Douglas Louison said the men were wrongfully terminated and that they will sue for back wages and benefits.

Meanwhile, as each day of the impasse goes by, Market Basket is losing money.

There were “very few customers” shopping at the Biddeford Market Basket on Friday, said Snook.

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]



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