United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local One, representing nearly 12,000 workers in New York, has scheduled ratification meetings Aug. 7-9 for its members on a new employee pension funding agreement between the union and Tops Markets LLC.
The agreement is seen as an important milestone in Tops’ efforts to emerge in new financial restructuring from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was filed Feb. 21, 2018.
Since early April, UFCW Local One has been negotiating with Tops and its secured bondholders, Silver Point Capital, Greenwich, Connecticut (which will be the equity owner of Tops when it emerges from bankruptcy). The negotiations focused on the elimination of the defined benefit pension plan and a funding mechanism for a new 401(k) plan.
According to the Local One union website, the discussion centered on the funding for a 401(k), to be financed by upfront seed money to be paid in a lump sum and then on a weekly percentage based on age and service.
“This has been a long and tedious negotiation process,” said Local One Union President Frank DeRiso. “From day one, I stated to the company and their bondholders that we would not entertain an offer that included reduced labor costs. We are looking for a viable 401(k) to help offset the loss of the members’ defined benefit plan.
DeRiso added, “This is totally up to the membership. It is my job to bring the best possible offer to the members to vote on. This process took so long because we had make to make sure the offer was going to be sufficient to help offset some of the monthly pension loss in the future. Now, it will be in the members’ hands. They will vote to accept or reject the offer, and we will explain their options in full details at the meetings.”
At the ratification meetings, members will learn what their seed money lump sum amount is based on his or her age and years of service as well as weekly contribution percentage going forward. The union says it will announce store closings of which it is aware.
According to the union press release, everything else in the Tops contract stays the same over the next 21 months until the current contract expires. He said the only change to the current contract is the defined contribution plan elimination and the new 401(k) plan funding.
The ratification vote is for all active Tops members currently receiving a pension contribution to the UFCW Local One Pension Fund.