Tops Warehouse Workers to Get Some Pension Funds

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Tops Warehouse Workers to Get Some Pension Funds

Tops' deal with the Teamsters regarding the pensions of about 600 warehouse workers has yet to be finalized and ratified, and must also receive court approval

Workers at a Tops Markets LLC warehouse in Lancaster, N.Y., have been informed that in the wake of an agreement hashed out with their union in May, the grocer is likely to pay only about $15 million of the $20 million-plus it had been holding in workers’ pension funds, according to a published account.

The employees, members of Cheektowaga, N.Y.-based Teamsters Local 264, received the news in a closed-door meeting from a bankruptcy lawyer, the Democrat & Chronicle, in Rochester, N.Y., reported.

When reached for comment by Progressive Grocer, a Tops spokeswoman responded: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with the Teamsters, which will allow us to provide important benefits to Teamsters’ members. While the agreement must be finalized and ratified and is subject to court approval, it represents an important milestone in our financial restructuring efforts.”

The Teamsters have reportedly offered a two-year contract in the deal to get back the $15 million portion of about 600 employees’ pensions, although Local 264 President Brian Dickman declined to confirm any details of the settlement to the Democrat & Chronicle.

According to The Buffalo News, the deal could resolve one of the biggest financial hurdles to the restructuring of Tops’ business and its emergence from bankruptcy, potentially saving the company from having to pay out more than $180 million.

The newspaper noted that under the deal, the warehouse workers would get a one-time payment from the $15 million funding pool, averaging around $25,000 per eligible employee, in a new retirement-type account that would be set up for them.

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops acquired the former C&S Wholesale Grocers facility in 2013. The grocer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February and last month received court approval to shutter any underperforming locations it deems necessary.