By Sarah Varney
The Harrison A&P at 355 Halstead Ave. will definitely become a Key Food store, but when and under what conditions current employees will work is still up in the air.
While legal documents indicate that the sale of the A&P store to Key Food is final, union officials for United Food and Commercial Workers representing Locals 338 and 474 told employees at the Harrison store on Oct. 19 that the purchase arrangement is not yet finalized.
“All they’re telling us is that negotiations are ongoing but that nothing has been agreed upon. There’s no contract approved,” a management staffer there who requested anonymity said.
Key Food’s purchase of A&P stores has been met with resistance from the union over whether or not employee conditions and benefits will be maintained. Locals 342 and 1500 on Long Island are also party to these negotiations, union officials said in an Oct. 17 update to members posted on the union website, local338.org.
In that same online update to union members, officials said some stores will change hands as soon as this week and some stores’ transitions may happen before any agreements are in place.
Pay reductions, weekly shift allotment and the elimination of family health plans are a few concerns expressed by union officials during the transition process. Key Food Co-op Inc. operates 185 grocery stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. The company purchased 16 A&P locations, according to legal documents filed after a sale hearing presided over by Judge Robert Drain on
A&P, the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., originally filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 on July 20. On Oct. 1, the company put up 82 of its stores in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania on the auction block. A sale hearing held on Oct. 16 finalized the purchase of 53 stores, including the 16 that Key Food purchased. This marks A&P’s second bankruptcy filing in the last five years.
Down the road the news is worse for employees at the A&P store at 670 Mamaroneck Ave. in Mamaroneck. According to legal documents, that store was bought out by CW A&P Mamaroneck, LLC for $66,000. According to a cashier at the store who will retire once the location is shuttered, the union hasn’t been forthcoming to employees. “We’ve been in the dark for several months now,” she told the Review.
On Oct. 23, after press time, the store will host a final auction of all contents. “When everything sells out, we close,” store manager Ed Rose said.
On Oct. 22, after press time, prices will be decreased and the store will close early at 7 p.m., according to Rose.
For longtime customer Phyllis Kaskel, who has lived a half mile from the Mamaroneck supermarket for 35 years, Stop & Shop is likely now her only option.
But she won’t become a Key Food customer. “Hell no. It’s too ghetto,” Kaskel said.