Newswatch

BRUNO'S WORKERS MAY GO ON STRIKE BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Membership of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1657 could call a strike in the event that Bruno's and Food World stores are sold to a company that won't commit to rehiring them under a new contract. The union has tangled with Bruno's over the retailer's insistence that its contract should be voided in order to facilitate a sale. Bruno's

BRUNO'S WORKERS MAY GO ON STRIKE

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Membership of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1657 could call a strike in the event that Bruno's and Food World stores are sold to a company that won't commit to rehiring them under a new contract. The union has tangled with Bruno's over the retailer's insistence that its contract should be voided in order to facilitate a sale. Bruno's is operating under protection of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and intends to sell itself at an auction this week.

FMI DENOUNCES INTERCHANGE HIKE

ARLINGTON, Va. — Food Marketing Institute here last week denounced new increases in fees for retailers handling Visa Rewards credit cards, and urged President Obama to discuss the controversial charges in meetings with the banking industry. Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of FMI, in a prepared statement last week called increases in Visa Rewards cards — ranging from 2.5% to 8.9% — “deplorable.” Sarasin separately wrote a letter to the National Economic Council, urging the White House to address interchange fees in meetings with credit card officials last week.

N.J. UNION, CHAINS AGREE ON DEAL

CLIFTON, N.J. — A union representing 30,000 workers at ShopRite, Pathmark and FoodTown stores in New York and New Jersey last week agreed in principle to a new contract with employers. According to Harvey Whille, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1262 here, the new deal does not change health and welfare benefits, provides adequate pension funding and provides a fair wage increase. Members are expected to take ratification votes this week.

FRESH MARKET EMPLOYEE CHARGED

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Police here last week arrested an employee of The Fresh Market for stealing more than $147,000 from the retailer's corporate headquarters. Amanda Hanes Womble, who according to reports was a supervisor in the company's accounts payable department, embezzled $147,822 from the company between June 2007 and March 2009, a police report said. The accused admitted her involvement to investigators, local reports said.

NRF, RILA MERGE; MULLIN RETIRES

WASHINGTON — The executive committees of the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association said they have agreed in principle to merge into a single trade association. The merger is expected to be completed by this summer, though a new name for the group has not yet been selected. “This new partnership will allow retailers to have a cohesive, powerful voice on important public policy issues,” said Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive officer of NRF. Mullin also said she had decided, prior to the merger announcement, to retire after 30 years with NRF.

AG NEW ENGLAND BUYS DISTRIBUTOR

PEMBROKE, N.H. — Associated Grocers of New England here last week said it has agreed to acquire the assets of Manchester Wholesale Distributors of Manchester, N.H. Terms were not disclosed. Manchester Wholesale is a convenience store and foodservice distributor. Raymond Tetu, the third-generation owner of Manchester Wholesale, was named to a newly created position of vice president of non-member business Development at AG New England. The agreement also includes an alliance with J. Polep Distribution Services of Chicopee, Mass.