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BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As the stalemate between the Market Basket Board of Directors and protesting employees continue, the company is issuing an ultimatum.

On Wednesday, co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch released a statement:

"We want Market Basket associates back to work and reiterate that they can return without fear of penalty. We again acknowledge and understand how difficult this situation has been for associates. However, we also need to have associates working to support stores, customers and vendors. We need associates to return to work on Monday August 4th. We understand that some associates may choose not to return, consequently we will begin advertising for employment opportunities. Our hope and strong preference is to have Market Basket's incredible associates return to work. Again, any associate that wants to return will be welcomed and not penalized."

Thousands of employees have been protesting the firing of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

The protests have blocked deliveries to stores, and crippled the business.

Biddeford employees like Larry Giguere think the ultimatum is nothing but an empty threat.

"They're going to replace 25 thousand employees? There aren't that many dedicated people out there," he said.

But Market Basket is planning a job fair to hire replacement workers on August 6th. It will be held at the Market Basket IT computer center in Andover, MA from 1-8 p.m.

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