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MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. -- On the heels of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.'s announcement earlier this month that it plans to sell or close more than 100 full-service Farmer Jack and discount Food Basics stores in Michigan and Ohio, leaders from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 876 based here are decrying the move as bad for both working families and consumers.
"A & P's decision to close and efforts to sell its Farmer Jack stores have consequences, not only for the nearly 8,000 UFCW Local 876 members working in the stores, but also for the communities where those workers live," said Victoria Collins, president of UFCW 876, which represent the Farm Jack and Food Basics workers.
"The company's financial difficulties do not stem from its dedicated and productive workforce in Michigan," added Collins. "From customer service to company loyalty, Farmer Jack employees have made the grocer a mainstay in our communities. And for its part, Farmer Jack has provided fair wages and benefits that have helped sustain those communities. We expect whoever purchases the stores to live up to those standards."
"This is an unsettling situation for all of us," said Kim Fletcher, Local 876 member and Farmer Jack cashier for 25 years. "We're worried about our families, and we are worried that the company is going to sell the stores to a buyer that has no respect for Farmer Jack career employees or our communities."
"The most sensible thing for the company to do, from both a business and community standpoint, is seek a buyer that keeps the union employees in place at Farmer Jack to ensure a smooth transition and the workforce experience and loyalty any buyer will need to succeed," Collins said.