4/13/2011 Westmont, Nj - In a stunning announcement on April 1st 2011, the Westmont based Super Fresh store had to make the tough decision of laying off 18 employees.
"It's just not fair, and doesn't make sense to me. I have paid union dues to prevent this, and yet the union managed to do nothing for me," stated one of the many employees recently let go. "All the union gave me was a packet explaining how to apply for unemployment."
A&P has closed 32 stores in the region, and after a stiff union standoff, had to shift a majority of the staff from the other closing stores, people who have more time with the union and A&P, into this already struggling store. According to a release by the UFCW 1360 "The union contract stipulates that in the event of a store closing, there would be a shift of employees from a closing store to a operating one. The practice of 'Bumping' would take place." Bumping, as it would seem, would ensure longevity to its members with the most time, effectively doing nothing for its newest members. For example, a meat cutter with 25 years could take the spot of a meat cutter with 23 years. Or a Utility clerk with 5 years, could take the spot of a utility clerk with 4 years.
"I have been checking in the store for years, and I have never called out, or used a sick day. I always thought I did a great job, but it all counted for nothing when it came down to this." said one employee during checkout to a customer. "It's a real shame, the local customers get used to seeing so many faces for years, and just like that, overnight, it all changes."
The already struggling store has had its workforce cut back during normal business hours to attempt to make up for the regional loss in profits. "Some of us would commute over 40 minutes to work a 4 hour shift from a 16 hour work week." One customer commented during a recent shopping trip that one employee had a mountain of work in front of him in the produce department that would seem unsafe, yet still tried to make the best of his shift. "That kid over there said he has 4 hours to basically restock the entire department, clean it, but all of that salad bar away, and help customers. I'd be pulling my hair out if I walked into something like that."
According to several interviews with long time customers, of whom many are from the prominent senior community in the area, one senior summed up her sadness with the news. "The relationships that a lot of us[the seniors] have created with the young staff, will be heart breaking. The better amount of us share lots of great conversations and moments with these people. In fact during the holidays, I know several people have gone out of there way to make cookies or cards for some of the employees."
"We aren't just losing jobs in our area, we are removing the potential economic advantages of employing the local population. That money is going to go elsewhere and hurt our community in the long run." said Larry Mack of Haddon Twp., NJ. "The lower price project with Kelly Ripa wasn't the reason I wanted to go to that store, it was because I honestly wanted to shop where people knew me, and I knew them."
Final lay off days are scheduled to take place this coming Saturday 4/16/2011.
Anchor Text: GAPTQ, GAJ, GREAT ATLANTIC PACIFIC TEA COMPANY