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The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. has filed suit in Brooklyn Federal Court against the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 342 for trying to steer customers away from frozen meat over Memorial Day weekend by passing out what the grocer said was a "defamatory and libelous" leaflet suggesting that its frozen meat "may have been frozen for years."
According to the suit, the union distributed the leaflets outside Pathmark, Waldbaum, and The Food Emporium units in New York and Long Island.
The union countered that A&P’s legal action was a "harassing" suit tied to a labor dispute over wages and vacation time at Food Emporium and Waldbaum's.
The union said it handed out the leaflets to encourage shoppers to take their business to the stores’ fresh meat departments, where workers’ hours have recently been cut. Union lawyer Ira Wincott told the New York Daily News that he believed Memorial Day sales in the fresh meat departments were up over last year due to the leaflet.
Wincott added that A&P disciplined or suspended several union workers for handing out the leaflets.
A&P officials were unavailable for further comment yesterday on the suit and the union’s claim of a labor dispute.