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Wegmans responds to picketing over union concerns

Chili, N.Y. - Picketers outside of the Wegmans Food Market corporate office Friday prompted the grocery chain to respond.

The picketing was in response to the status of contract negotiations for union employees.

A spokesperson for Wegmans released a statement regarding the New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund and its critical status under federal law due to an apparent "lack of assets."

The statement reads:

We care about our employees and would never do anything to hurt them.

Wegmans and the Teamsters Union, which represents almost 900 of our Rochester distribution and transportation employees, have been negotiating a new contract for six months. Agreement has been reached on all issues except retirement and the wage package. There has been a three-week break from negotiations, but bargaining will resume next week, Monday through Friday.

Wegmans has proposed to replace the New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund (Teamsters Fund) with our own Retirement Plan, which covers all other eligible Wegmans employees, including another Teamsters group. The Teamsters Fund is in critical status under federal law because it does not have enough assets. Based on the Teamsters Funds own numbers, for each dollar of retirement benefits promised by the Fund it has only $.46 in assets, and they project it to decline over time to $.34. The Fund has already cut benefit levels twice.

Wegmans has proposed to stop participating in the Teamsters Fund, and pay the Fund its required liability of approximately $136 million, which would help to preserve the benefits already due our employees from the Fund. In addition, we have proposed generous payments to some employees in this group, based upon age and years of service, in order to help with this change. We are confident that all of the employees covered by this contract will have a much more secure retirement benefit.

Wegmans has successfully negotiated fair and equitable agreements with the Teamsters Union for more than 50 years, and we are hopeful that an agreement will be reached.

The Teamsters Union has not yet commented on the statement from Wegmans.

 
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