On Thursday, April 14th UFCW Local 1500 and other UFCW Local unions with membership working for A&P/Pathmark met with attorneys and financial consultants hired by the UFCW International to monitor the A&P/Pathmark bankruptcy. The following is a statement from UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce W. Both regarding the outcome of that meeting and the information presented:
“For the last several months members of Local 1500 working for Pathmark have continued to work hard, service the customers and are helping to return their company back on the road to profitability. At the same time, the officers and staff of Local 1500 have worked tirelessly to enforce the Union Contract, service Pathmark members and minimize the effect of several store closings. These have been difficult months for all concerned.
Despite the closing of almost 100 stores and numerous other actions to reduce debt and expenses, it has been clear to all of us involved that A&P/Pathmark may eventually seek to further reduce their expenses through reductions of their labor costs throughout their entire operation, as well as other concessions. Unfortunately, this is a standard action taken by companies that have declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, this cannot be done till A&P/Pathmark negotiates with the affected Unions over any reductions or concessions.
It was reported back to us yesterday that we should expect that A&P/Pathmark would present this plan to the affected UFCW Unions at a meeting on May 4th. We should also expect that at this time A&P/Pathmark management would seek cost savings from their Union contracts. In addition to labor concessions it is possible that A&P/Pathmark could announce further store closings.
While we have no details about the reorganization plan or concessions to our contract that A&P/Pathmark wants, UFCW Local 1500’s leadership is committed to holding any possible reductions to their absolute minimum and demands that the sacrifice also come from A&P management, vendors and other creditors. We have made it clear that we will fight any effort to rebuild this company on the backs of its workers and our members.
Clearly we as a Union would aggressively fight back any misguided attempt by A&P/Pathmark to void the contract and apply what could only be referred to as the “nuclear option.” While we do not expect the company to attempt such a drastic measure, we are preparing for that possibility. The UFCW Local 1500 leadership has the responsibility to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I assure you we are prepared.
We are required by the courts to negotiate with the company. Should the company seek concessions, we will be required to bring back to the Local 1500 Pathmark members whatever has been negotiated.
There will be much to discuss over the next several weeks and months. Difficult decisions will have to be made. However, unlike so many other companies that have recently gone through bankruptcies, you will have a voice and say in your future and the future of your company.
It is only with Union Solidarity that we will successfully beat back any attempts to reduce your health insurance plans, eliminate your pensions or significantly reduce your rights under your Union contract. It will only be when we speak as One Union with One Voice that your company will get the message that the workers will not shoulder the entire burden of turning this company back to profitability.
I will report back to you following the May 4th meeting. Till then we must stay united. Remember: “One Union, One Voice!!”
-Bruce W. Both, UFCW Local 1500 President