NEWS WATCH: STORE-LEVEL JOB CUTS PLANNED AT SHAW'S...IGA BECOMES TOPCO MEMBER...BUTCHERS REJECT JEWEL OFFER; BARGAINING RESUMES

STORE-LEVEL JOB CUTS PLANNED AT SHAW'SSupermarkets here is meeting union resistance to store-level staff reductions in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, it was announced last week. Around 300 jobs would be affected, including 225 to 242 full-time positions in various store departments, a spokesman for United Food & Commercial Workers Local 791, told SN. Shaw's said the workers will be offered

STORE-LEVEL JOB CUTS PLANNED AT SHAW'S

Supermarkets here is meeting union resistance to store-level staff reductions in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, it was announced last week. Around 300 jobs would be affected, including 225 to 242 full-time positions in various store departments, a spokesman for United Food & Commercial Workers Local 791, told SN. Shaw's said the workers will be offered other opportunities to remain with Shaw's and that the changes will "optimize staffing requirements and schedule flexibility." Peter Derouen, spokesman for South Easton, Mass.-based Local 791 told SN that the union and the grocer are "at odds as to who can be bumped and who can't" under terms of the union's contract, which expires July 31. "We don't consider this a coincidence that this comes at a time when contract negotiations are starting," Derouen added. Shaw's was purchased by Albertsons, Boise, Idaho, in April. Albertsons last month laid off around 100 corporate headquarters positions at Shaw's.

IGA BECOMES TOPCO MEMBER

CHICAGO -- IGA here said last week that it had become a member of Topco Associates, the Skokie, Ill.-based private-label procurement cooperative, saying the move will increase the profitability and presence of IGA-brand products throughout the world. Currently, IGA's licensed distribution centers buy private-label products separately and through multiple brokers. In a statement, IGA said that distributors who wish to continue the current practice may do so. Topco member companies include Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Ukrop's Super Markets, Richmond, Va.; Haagen, Bellingham, Wash.; Schnuck Markets, St. Louis; Stater Bros., Colton, Calif.; and Hy-Vee, Des Moines, Iowa.

BUTCHERS REJECT JEWEL OFFER; BARGAINING RESUMES

CHICAGO -- Meat, fish and deli members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1546 here last week rejected a "last, best and final" contract offer from Jewel Food Stores but returned to the bargaining table in hopes of reaching agreement for a new contract, a union spokesman said. The union voted to reject Jewel's offer by a 77% margin, said spokesman S.J. Peters, who added the union was dissatisfied with the retailer's proposed reductions in overtime and holiday pay as well as changes to its health care plan including co-payments and new hire requirements. Jewel, a division of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons, said its offer would provide butchers with retroactive pay increases dating back to last July, when the last agreement expired. A Jewel spokeswoman told SN last week that it would rescind that offer after June 12 to fund preparations for a strike.

STATE: FLEMING PLANT CLOSING VIOLATED RULES

SUPERIOR, Wis. -- The state of Wisconsin has initially found that Fleming, Dallas, violated state law by not giving its employees or the town the required 60 days' notice of a warehouse here closing, published reports said. According to the state Department of Workforce Development, Fleming owes its employees as little as $780 and as much as $16,000. Fleming employed 238 workers. The state also determined that Fleming owes the city $30,000 for not notifying Superior's mayor. According to the report, Fleming's lawyers said the company had interpreted events differently and was working on a resolution.

KMART SELLING STORES TO HOME DEPOT

TROY, Mich. -- Kmart here said last week that it would sell as many as 24 of its stores for as much as $365 million to Atlanta-based home improvement retailer Home Depot. The exact number of stores, locations and purchase price will be determined by the companies within two months, Kmart said. Kmart closed nearly 600 stores while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002 and 2003. The acquired stores would be converted to Home Depot locations "as quickly as possible," Kmart said.