Whether it's for real or just a psychological warfare stunt by the new Market Basket leadership is far from clear, but full-page newspaper ads by the supermarket chain's co-CEOs promoting a three-day job fair for replacement workers provoked a range of reactions Thursday from protesting workers.
"Good luck trying to fill all our jobs! They don't know what we do in there," said Linda Kulis, who works in accounts receivable in the Tewksbury, Massachusetts, headquarters.
"I just started laughing and said, 'This is a joke,'" said Mike Feather, an 18-year company veteran who works in its New Bedford store.
"They've fired people, they've tried to scare people, and I think that's more of what this is: Scare tactics," said Chris Dick, director of the Salem, New Hampshire, Market Basket.
They're among thousands of Market Basket employees who have been protesting for two weeks and urging customers to boycott the 71 stores until Arthur T. Demoulas, fired June 23, is reinstated as CEO.
In the ad, new co-CEOs Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton said the first two days of the job fair, to be held in Andover, will be for current employees looking to apply for higher-up positions.
"I don't think there will be any Market Basket associates that are going to be willing to step up and work for this regime," Dick said.
Thornton and Gooch released a statement defending the job fair In a statement shortly before 5 p.m.
"We have said several times that we hope sincerely that we do not discharge any employees. We want our associates back," they said. "We are focused solely on getting Market Basket stores back up and running for our customers and, importantly, for the many local vendors that rely on Market Basket to make their own businesses successful for the sake of their employees."