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Judge approves Foodtown bid for LI Waldbaum's

Chains such as ShopRite, Waldbaum's Foodtown and Best

Chains such as ShopRite, Waldbaum's Foodtown and Best Yet are buying Waldbaum's locations. Photo Credit: Adam Daley

A federal bankruptcy judge Thursday approved the bid from a Foodtown operator to buy a Waldbaum's on Long Island owned by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.

Mount Vernon-based PSK Supermarkets, Inc., a retailer-owned cooperative that operates Foodtown, will buy the Waldbaum's in Rocky Point and a Pathmark in Manhattan for a total of $19.4 million. Foodtown already operates five stores on Long Island, according to its website.

Judge Robert Drain made the decision on the stores Thursday at a hearing in federal bankruptcy court in White Plains.

PSK made an employment "offer to employees," an attorney for A&P said during the hearing. A spokesman for A&P declined to elaborate.

"PSK Foodtown is rehiring virtually all of the employees," said Nikki Kateman, a spokeswoman for Mineola-based UFCW Local 338, which represents members working at Waldbaum's stores on Long Island.

According to a state filing in August, there were 89 employees at the Rocky Point store who were facing layoffs.

For the third time, a decision was delayed on a $3.45 million bid from H Mart, a New Jersey-based Asian-American supermarket chain, for the Waldbaum's in Jericho. That hearing has been rescheduled to Nov. 13.

Workers and residents had filed petitions with the court opposing the sale to H Mart, claiming the company would not hire displaced workers because it specializes in Asian products. H Mart has 50 locations in 11 states, including two locations on Long Island.

Decisions on the Jericho store and two other A&P locations were postponed after a "stalemate" with the unions representing workers at the stores. The last proposal made by H Mart was not acceptable to the local union, an attorney for A&P said during the hearing.

Several other companies buying A&P stores have agreed to hire at least 25 percent of a store's workforce from among displaced A&P union workers, including Best Yet Market Inc., a family-owned nonunion operator that is buying nine Waldbaum's and Pathmark stores on Long Island.

"Ultimately, I would need to see why a union is rejecting a proposal without good cause," Drain said. The same would apply to the bidders. Without an agreement there is a possibility that "the asset won't be sold," he added.

A decision was also delayed on a bid of $600,000 for the Pathmark in Brentwood from Brooklyn-based Bogopa Service Corp., owner of the Food Bazaar supermarket chain.

So far, 33 Long Island A&P stores have been bought or bid on, and five were closed in October, while 13 other stores remain unsold. If buyers are not found, the unsold stores are expected to close the week before Thanksgiving.

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