PHILADELPHIA — Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 here have told Acme Markets they would not accept a buyout offer from the retailer, citing pension and benefit concerns.
Acme, the Malvern, Pa.-based division of Supervalu, first proposed a buyout for around 300 Acme employees represented by UFCW 1776 in July. The union has twice rejected it, telling Acme President Dan Sanders in a letter last week that it would not consider the offer without first negotiating ways to structure the buyout so as to mitigate potential detrimental effects to underfunded pension and health funds.
“For every person that leaves, it will create a shortfall in the fund,” Wendell Young IV, president of UFCW 1776, told SN in an interview Friday. “They are not willing to talk with us about how to cushion that. We’re willing to find ways to be creative and structure it so they can still keep and benefit from most of the savings, but they refuse to have that conversation. They want to pocket all of the savings and leave the impact on the pension funds, which will eventually cause our members to have their benefits reduced or limited.”
“We continue to operate in a competitive and challenging economic environment and need to make the very difficult decisions we believe are necessary to meet our ever-changing business needs to re-position the company for the future,” Acme said in a statement. “The voluntary severance program is an important part of that strategy, and we are disappointed that it appears that UFCW Local 1776 will walk away from the fair and generous plan that all of our other locals agreed was in the best interests of their members.”