WOODBRIDGE, N.J. — Union truck loaders for A&P staged a one-day strike at a warehouse operated by supplier C&S Wholesale Grocers here last week, protesting an anticipated loss of jobs and a lack of progress in contract negotiations.
The loaders, who work for Grocery Haulers Inc., are represented by Teamsters Local 863, Mountainside, N.J. Grocery Haulers is contracted to provide delivery services for A&P.
The workers have been without a contract for 10 months and said A&P has refused to negotiate. In addition, about 1,500 jobs could be lost when C&S moves warehousing and distribution to other locations in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, reports said.
Local newspapers last week said C&S planned to move the jobs in February. The Keene, N.H.-based distributor was not available for comment last week. An A&P spokeswoman told SN last week, “It is the company's position not to comment publicly on any discussions or negotiations we may be having with our suppliers as we work to implement our comprehensive turnaround plan.”
Teamsters said the strike disrupted service to A&P stores from the Woodbridge facility last Wednesday. About 200 workers in the meantime rallied outside of A&P's headquarters in Montvale, N.J.
Since identifying lower labor costs as part of its turnaround strategy (see Page 1), A&P has faced criticism from labor on several fronts. Little Falls, N.J.-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 464A last week decried “outrageous” demands — including pay cuts for workers in Westchester County, N.Y. — as part of ongoing negotiations for a new contract. Workers represented by the same union last month voted to approve a new contract covering workers at seven Food Basics discount stores operated by A&P.
Alphonse Rispoli, secretary-treasurer of Local 863, in a statement last week said the one-day strike was “just the beginning” for A&P.
“A&P must be held accountable for their employees, customers and contractors they use to warehouse and deliver products to their stores.”
Local 863 has recently been battling another New Jersey-based grocer, Avenel-based Foodtown, which reportedly intends to switch from White Rose to C&S for its supplies beginning this month.
Teamsters representatives staged leafleting campaigns at Foodtown supermarkets urging shoppers to boycott the stores. This action, however, brought a response from two unions representing workers at Foodtown stores, which used ads in local newspapers to tell consumers they were not involved in a labor dispute with Foodtown.
Foodtown, a cooperative of independently owned stores, could not be reached for comment on the switch.