Unemployed, part-time workers in the market basket divided


“He doesn’t have to worry about making a mortgage payment or paying for groceries,” said Stanavich, 62.

A month after the start of the protests, emptying the stores of customers and grocery stores, part-time workers, who constitute the majority of the 25,000 people in Market Basket, bear the brunt of the quarrel in the Demoulas family, owners of 71 – chain of shops. And as Pierce and Stanavich show, financial pressures are creating divisions within the once unified workforce as the pay days without pay grow longer.

Many still support the walkout that followed the ousting of Arthur T. Demoulas, engineered by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. Others just want their jobs back.

Some apply for unemployment and look for work elsewhere.

At the Nashua store, employees normally work around 8,500 hours per week, said deputy manager Caleb Owens. Last week, managers reduced those hours by more than 80% to 1,500, removing 380 of the 450 employees from the schedule.

On the day the cuts were announced, Owens said, “People were scared. People were crying. His manager told him it was the worst day of his career.

A spokesperson for the company said Market Basket wants its employees to return to work. “If these stores were up and running and taking deliveries and had customers in the stores,” the spokesperson said, “store managers would schedule hours for their part-time employees.”

Part-time workers are very diverse: retirees, teachers needing a summer income, students trying to earn extra money, mothers who only work when their children are in school. They typically earn between $ 8 and $ 10 an hour, with no benefits, the managers said, but they receive bonuses and increases of 25 cents twice a year, along with a profit split.

The public rallied around the workers, refusing to shop in stores and donating money to help those who lost hours and income.

An appeal to online fundraising site GoFundMe brought in over $ 8,600 in donations for a 94-year-old unemployed bagger in Stratham, NH Meanwhile, more than $ 100,000 was raised for truck drivers and warehouse workers who quit work, crippling the company’s ability to stock shelves and attract customers – and pay part-time workers.

In Astrid Ponce’s family, 10 people lost their income when Market Basket cut their hours. “We’re all unemployed now,” said Ponce, 21, a 30-hour-a-week cashier who works at the Chelsea store with her mother, brother, uncles, aunts and cousins. The Chelsea store, which normally employs 1,100 workers, has only 100 this week.

Ponce was saving up to study Business Administration at Bunker Hill Community College, but she is no longer sure she could attend. She lives at home and her parents depend on the $ 450 per month she contributes towards rent and groceries. Her father, a warehouse worker at Logan Airport, and her brother, who just landed a minimum wage job at the airport, are now the sole breadwinners in the family of seven.

“I don’t think leaving 25,000 employees out of work is worth it,” said Ponce, who has stopped picketing to look for work. “They have to come to an agreement. They have to leave greed behind.”

Some employees are as concerned about their customers as they are about themselves. Catherine Makosiej, a 28-year-old cashier in Manchester, New Hampshire, said her store serves many low-income families who depend on low market basket prices to stretch food stamps and other subsidies, such as the nutrition program for women and children, known as WIC.

“It hurts to see these customers come through my line as a cashier and not have the product they need to top up their state WIC vouchers to help feed their children and other family members,” he said. said Makosiej, who, like most other part-time workers, his hours were cut. “I wish the Demoulas cousins ​​could see what is really going on.”

Makosiej, who worked in a pizza place and a potato chip vendor to make ends meet, said she was too scared to protest at Market Basket stores for fear of losing her job. But, she said, she backs “Artie T. … with every piece of me I have left.”

“I have no hours, but if that’s what it takes to get it back, it’s our boss,” she said. “If he’s out, I’m out. “

Katie Johnston can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.

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