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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Nov 20, 2009 11:47 PM Flag

    Acme contract talks continue; decision was expected late Friday

    Acme contract talks continue; decision was expected late Friday

    By ERIK ORTIZ Staff Writer | Posted: Friday, November 20, 2009 | 0 comments

    Contract talks were set to end late Friday between Acme supermarkets and the union representing cashiers and clerks at more than a dozen locations in southern New Jersey, including Cumberland County.

    But it was unclear before The Press' deadline whether a contract agreement had been reached, or if members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1360 would walk off the job as soon as today. Members voted overwhelmingly Nov. 10 to strike should talks break down this week.

    The supermarket chain and the union have been unable to agree on a new contract since April, when the current five-year one expired. The two sides resumed talks Thursday.

    But as of Friday afternoon, there were no further negotiation dates on deck, Acme spokeswoman Gail Street said.

    Local 1360, based in Berlin Township, Camden County, has about 2,400 members working as cashiers and clerks at Acmes in Cumberland, Burlington, Salem, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer counties. Also included in the negotiations are workers from lower Bucks County, Pa.

    In Cumberland County, the union represents the cashiers and clerks at the Acme in Bridgeton, Local 1360 President Sam Ferraino said.

    He was unavailable for further comment Friday but has said the union wants secure health care benefits and salaries. He would like members to be able to join a new health care plan that he believes will save Acme money, but the supermarket will not agree to it, he said.

    Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc., Acme's parent company, has said it wants to work out "a mutually beneficial contract without a labor dispute" and that "nobody wins in a strike."

    Acme resolved contract talks this year with other unions, including UFCW Local 152 in Hammonton, which represents meat cutters, produce workers and other back-end employees at Acmes throughout southern New Jersey.

    In September, Local 152 members ratified a new four-year contract that included wage increases, an increase in pension contributions by Acme totaling 36 percent over four years and a protection of workers' health benefits.

    But the union must sit down with Acme early next year, when its five-year contract for cashiers and clerks expires. That would involve workers at 17 stores, including locations in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties, Local 152 officials said.

    Depending on what happens with Acme and Local 1360, however, the start of those negotiations next year could be delayed.

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