5,000 Long Island Supermarket Workers Face Layoffs

A&P Layoffs
An A&P supermarket in Terrytown, Louisiana, almost empty, shortly before closing down in October 2007. (Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans/Wikimedia Commons)

More than 5,000 workers at 50 supermarkets on Long Island face potential layoffs this fall if the company that owns Pathmark and Waldbaum’s can’t find buyers for those stores after filing for bankruptcy.

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., known as A&P, may close 19 Pathmarks and 31 Waldbaum’s in Nassau and Suffolk counties between Oct. 19 and Thanksgiving, according to mass layoff notices A&P filed with the New York State Department of Labor shortly after the grocer requested Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Westchester federal court last month.

“We are confident that pursuing a sale process implemented through chapter 11 will enable us to preserve as many jobs as possible and ensure that we achieve the best possible outcome for all stakeholders,” Paul Hertz, president and CEO of A&P, said in a statement July 20.

But, since first announcing that the New Jersey-based, 156-year-old company plans to sell 120 of its about 300 stores and close 25, the number of supermarkets it warned may close has risen in advance of court-ordered deadlines for buyers to bid on the remaining stores.

Aside from Waldbaum’s and Pathmark, A&P also runs stores in its own name, plus SuperFresh, Food Basics, The Food Emporium and Best Cellars stores across the tri-state area, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the union that represents about 30,000 A&P employees, has been negotiating with the company to preserve seniority rights and severance for its members. Some workers may be rehired if their stores are purchased.

“The UFCW and UFCW Local Unions will work hard to ensure that the process for selling stores protects our members’ jobs, working conditions and benefits,” the union said in a statement. “We will also hold A&P to its commitments to involve UFCW in the sales process, protect union contracts and these good jobs.”

Four days after filing for bankruptcy, A&P filed a mass layoff notice for 472 workers at five “underperforming” local supermarkets it plans to close, including Pathmarks in Baldwin and Centereach as well as Waldbaum’s in Riverhead, Oceanside and Carle Place. Those separations are expected between Oct. 19 and the stores’ scheduled Nov. 1 closing date.

Then on Monday, A&P filed another mass layoff notice indicating 4,732 workers at 17 additional Pathmarks and 28 more Waldbaum’s on LI may get pink slips between Nov. 12 and Nov. 26. The list detailing the layoffs for each store adds up to 4,632 affected local employees. Regardless of the discrepancy, either number combined with the 472 from the first round of layoffs equals more than 5,000 workers.

The latest layoff notice include 13,097 A&P workers statewide. The potential layoffs also reportedly affect 450 workers in Connecticut, about 5,000 in New Jersey and 151 in Philadelphia. Among A&P’s competitors bidding on their stores are Stop & Shop, Key Food and Acme Markets.

Acme Markets’ purchases don’t include any of A&P’s LI locations but Key Food plans to buy two Waldbaum’s in Albertson and Glen Head, Newsday reported. Among those Stop & Shop announced it will acquire are six local Waldbaum’s in Easthampton, Southampton, Baldwin, Massapequa, Long Beach and Huntington, as well as two Pathmarks in Seaford and Greenvale.

“Stop & Shop is always looking for convenient locations to better serve our customers,” Don Sussman, Stop & Shop’s New York Metro Division President, said in a statement. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to expand our presence in greater New York and serve new customers.”