Teamsters protest A&P over distributor's plans to drop NJ warehouses

October 29, 2010: A union representing warehouse workers and drivers is demonstrating outside the headquarters of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. in Montvale this morning over a decision by C&S Wholesale Grocers to supply the grocer from out of state.

The move, which is expected in February, will affect about 1,500 jobs, including about 300 drivers and 900 warehouse workers represented by the Teamsters, said Al Rispoli, secretary/treasurer of Local 863 in Mountainside.

"A&P can matter by saying to C&S 'Work it out with the union and keep the jobs here'," Rispoli said.

A representative of Keene, N.H.-based C&S Wholesale Grocers could not be reached for a comment.

Rispoli said C&S supplies A&P and Pathmark stores out of warehouses in Dayton, North Brunswick, New Brunswick and Woodbridge. C&S has more than 50 warehouse facilities in 12 states and serves many large supermarket chains, including Stop & Shop. Next month, the company will start supplying Foodtown as well.

The C&S warehouses that will get the work are nonunion, Rispoli said.

"We have already sent letters to all the politicians in New Jersey and to the governor, letting them know there is going to be an avalanche," Rispoli said. The job loss "will affect New Jersey, taxes, the revenues and destroy the economy."

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. is in the midst of a turnaround plan to stem losses and improve the sales and customer experience at its stores. The company recently closed 25 underperforming stores in five states, including its Pathmark store in Marlboro.

In a recent update, the grocer said it is in talks with the company's operating partners and labor unions to find ways to lower its operating and store costs.

A&P spokeswoman Lauren La Bruno said the company does not comment on any discussions or negotiations it may be having with its suppliers as it implements the turnaround plan.

Four Teamsters locals have been handing out leaflets at Foodtown stores in Monmouth and Ocean counties upset over the grocer's decision to use C&S, rather than White Rose in Carteret, as its wholesaler. The demonstrations brought a rebuke last Friday from two locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers International that represents Foodtown employees.

Last week, the union wrote a letter to customers in an advertisement in Friday's Asbury Park Press, which was paid for by Foodtown. It was titled "...there is no labor dispute with any employees at any Foodtown location."

By David Willis

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