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Buffalo Warehouse Workers OK Pension Compromise

June 27, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Workers at a Tops Markets warehouse in Lancaster have approved a two-year contract, agreeing to pension changes that will help the bankrupt supermarket chain restructure. The pact with Teamsters Local 264, announced June 20, resolves a dispute that began when the company acquired the warehouse in December 2013. Tops agreed to contribute $3.6 million earmarked for an executive-bonus plan to a new $15 million retirement fund for the warehouse workers. That will give workers one-time payments averaging about $25,000 each, but will not reimburse them for all the pension benefits they have not accrued since 2013. The dispute began when the pension fund refused to accept payments of about $400,000 a month from Tops, because it said Tops had triggered a withdrawal from the pension plan when it bought the warehouse. The company put more than $20 million into a separate account to cover its obligations to the fund, but then spent it all covering operating losses. The Teamsters won’t be able to recover those funds, sources familiar with the dispute told the Buffalo News. The deal, which still has to be approved by federal bankruptcy court, will also give the workers 2% annual raises. Read more

June 27, 2018

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