MONTVALE, N.J. — Labor unions worried that A&P may seek bankruptcy court approval to reject labor contracts or reduce wages and benefits without bargaining said they may consider a strike against the retailer.
"If the court sets aside our contract, the 'no strike clause' is no longer in effect and we have the right to strike," Bruce W. Both, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, said in a message to members posted on the union's website Tuesday. "I don’t want to alarm you, but it is my duty to let you know that A&P may leave us with no choice than to strike."
A&P has said labor expenses are among the "legacy costs" it intended to address during its stay in Chapter 11, and that it intended to renegotiate contracts as part of the process. Such discussions had not occurred by early this week, union sources said.
"All indications are that if A&P does not get what it wants in bargaining, it will ask the bankruptcy court in a so-called 1113 motion to approve such reductions or, worst case, to reject our contract outright," Both said.
Harvey Whille, president of UFCW Local 1262, Clifton, N.J., told SN in an interview that he was concerned that if A&P were to change terms, other retailers with similar deals would subsequently look for concessions.
"If you give one a break, you have to give them all a break," he said. "One thing that Chapter 11 doesn't do is take away our right, if we're not being treated fairly, to strike," Whille added. "If you're going to try and cut things and run away from obligations, there might be some real tough action coming down."