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A&P seeks bankruptcy court approval to cancel union contracts

A&P has asked a federal court for the

A&P has asked a federal court for the right to cancel union employees' bumping rights at all its stores and permission to stop payments to retirees' health plans, according to a motion filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains. A&P owns Waldbaum's, which is pictured here. Photo Credit: Adam Daley

A&P has asked a federal court for the right to reject its employees' collective bargaining agreements, according to a motion filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains.

In that motion, the Montvale, New Jersey-based Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. says that the contractual "bumping" rights of more senior employees who lose a job to replace more junior ones at other stores creates a "significant economic and administrative burden" as it seeks to sell its stores. Without relief, A&P estimates it could lose as much as $205 million in expected sales proceeds.

Earlier this month the judge ruled that more senior workers at 25 stores slated to close, including five on Long Island, couldn't replace junior workers at other stores. The company now wants that extended to all its stores.

Other provisions in the union contracts the company seeks to cancel include successor clauses requiring new owners to recognize unions; job guarantees and the right to strike over failure to make certain pension payments.

"These provisions . . . unreasonably impair the debtors' ability to sell stores and wind down their operations," the company's filing said.

In July, A&P said it had filed for bankruptcy and planned to close 25 stores and sell 120. But last month the company said it was going out of business and was seeking bids for its remaining 153 stores, including 35 on Long Island. Its stores include Waldbaum's, Pathmark and SuperFresh.

The union representing employees declined to comment, saying it was still studying the motion.

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