Employees of soon-to-be-shuttered National Super Markets Inc.
stores got mixed news Sunday about their pay and other job
conditions if hired by Schnucks.
At morning and evening meetings, officials with United Food and
Commercial Workers Local 655 outlined the results of negotiations
with Schnuck Markets Inc. Schnucks says it will hire at least half
of the National workers when it completes plans to buy 57 National
supermarkets in the St. Louis area in May.
"I'm impressed with what I heard," said Ron Field, a stock
clerk at the Sierra Vista store in north St. Louis County.
Field said he liked that National workers hired by Schnucks
stood a good chance of keeping their rate of pay, their hours and
health and welfare benefits.
Field was one of about 350 union members who attended the
evening meeting at Carpenters' Hall, 1401 Hampton Avenue.
Kevin Koch, 30, was one of about 500 workers at the morning
"Most people were pleasantly surprised about what it looks like
at the start," Koch said. "The big question is, how secure is that
Local 655 President Nick Torpea was among union officials who
met for eight days of informal discussions with Schnucks chairman
Craig Schnuck and other officials.
"All in all, it's a decent package . . . considering where we
came from," Torpea said Sunday.
Schnucks was under no legal requirement to offer equal pay and
benefits, he said. He called Schnucks "reasonable and fair."
But, Torpea said, "I can still understand why members would be
upset. I would be."
Employees leaving the meetings said they were pleased that most
would retain their current rate of pay and health benefits if hired
by Schnucks. But some said they were worried whether Schnucks would
They also expressed concern that the pay protection did not
extend to four stores - in De Soto, Washington, Eureka and Festus -
and that a proposed agreement on severance pay might contain a
Mark Ferrell, a clerk at the National store in Festus, said,
"It's upsetting that they are treating the outlying stores
different because they have to compete with Wal-Mart."
Ferrell formerly worked as a bagger for Kroger, until the chain
left the St. Louis area eight years ago.
"I'm hoping this is the last time I have to go through this,"
National could start laying off some of its 6,000 employees as
early as May 15, according to notices received last week by some
union leaders and employees. About 3,300 National checkers, baggers
and other employees are members of Local 655.
The chain plans to close all of its stores and other facilities
if the Federal Trade Commission approves Schnucks' plan to buy the
57 National supermarkets. …