A federal bankruptcy judge has decided that senior workers at 25 supermarkets owned by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. that are slated to close, including five on Long Island, will not be able to replace employees with less seniority working at other stores, union officials confirmed.
Earlier this week Judge Robert Drain in federal bankruptcy court in White Plains had asked for A&P and unions to create a cost-neutral plan by Thursday that would allow senior workers to bump less-senior employees. But the local unions argued 48 hours wasn't enough time to come up with a plan that would not cost A&P any money and would not reduce pay for more senior workers.
The judge's decision to deny the bumping rights means workers at the 25 stores will be out of a job. Amy Gray, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said: "We are working with community partners to get them hired at other good union stores."
A spokesman for A&P declined to comment.
The judge also has asked that severance payments to workers at the 25 supermarkets be increased to 52 percent of the amount owed for each year of work, instead of the 25 percent proposed by A&P.
Last month, A&P announced 472 workers could lose their jobs between Oct. 19 and Nov. 1 when it closes the five Long Island stores: Pathmarks in Baldwin and Centereach, and the Waldbaum's in Carle Place, Oceanside and Riverhead.
Last week, A&P revealed that on top of the October layoffs, a further 13,000 employees at stores on Long Island, in New York City and the Hudson Valley are at risk of being laid off by Thanksgiving. More than 4,600 workers at 45 Long Island supermarkets could be affected by potential layoffs scheduled between Nov. 12 and Nov. 26.
It's uncertain how many workers will lose their jobs. Much will hinge on whether A&P can sell 153 stores, including 35 on Long Island. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and Key Food Stores Co-operative Inc. are interested in buying 11 stores on Long Island. They could rehire workers now employed by A&P.