Assistance Available for Market Basket Employees

BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After weeks of protests, thousands of Market Basket employees are now finding themselves without a paycheck.

Market Basket workers have been rallying for the reinstatement of their beloved C.E.O. Arthur T. Demoulas. Demoulas was fired in June by the company's board of directors after decades of fighting over control of the family-owned company.

"I believe in what we are doing, and the customers believe in what we are doing, and we just want Artie T. back!" exclaimed Pat Berry, a part-time employee picketing outside the store on Friday. "It is odd, it is heart-breaking, but it is what we need to do."

Many employees have refused to work and have called on customers to boycott their stores to put pressure on the board to bring Demoulas back. With sales down as much as 90% due to the boycott and barren store shelves, the company informed part-time employees this week that their hours would be drastically reduced.

Now, employees are wondering what will happen next.

"Now, I realize, oh, golly there is not going to be a paycheck to help me out here," said Berry. "It is going to hurt, but then again, it is a stand I'm willing to take."

While none of the employees were laid off, the Maine Department of Labor says the employees may still be eligible for unemployment benefits.

"We always encourage anyone who has either had a reduction of hours, even if it is reduced 10 hours or it is reduced to zero, to file for unemployment benefits," explained Julie Rabinowitz, the department's communications director.

She says once the claim is filed, the department will examine the reason for separation, how long employee has worked for the employer, the amount they earned in wages, their average number of hours worked and then they make a determination on eligibility.

"For unemployment, you can still be an employee and qualify for benefits, and that is what we would call the reduction in hours," said Rabinowitz.

Impacted employees can call the Department of Labor at 1-800-593-7660 or log on to WWW.MAINE.GOV/LABOR to file a claim.


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