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Tops union workers watching Price Chopper merger: ‘We don’t anticipate any change, but we're always ready’

A Tops Markets worker returns grocery carts Sept. 29, 2021 at the Amherst Street location in Buffalo.
Tom Dinki
A Tops Markets worker returns grocery carts Sept. 29, 2021 at the Amherst Street location in Buffalo.

The union for Tops Markets employees say they have some trepidation over the grocer’s merger with Price Chopper, but are working to ensure their members are protected.

The Amherst-based Tops and Schenectady-based Price Chopper announced plans to merge into a new company of approximately 300 stores back in February. The deal is still pending regulatory approval.

United Food and Commercial Workers represents about 10,000 Tops employees. The union’s western area director, Mark Manna, said they have some concern about the merger, given that Price Chopper’s workforce is not unionized like Tops is.

“Their workers don't have the same pay and benefits as the union workers at Tops,” Manna said. “So our goal, as always, is to make sure that our membership at Tops is protected, that their wages hours and working conditions do not diminish through any merger.”

Tops spokesperson Kathy Sautter said in a statement that the merger will “have no impact” on their union associates, given that Tops has a business model that includes union contracts. She added that Tops and Price Chopper will continue to operate as two separate businesses until the regulatory process is complete.

Manna said UFCW’s understanding is that operations will likely be merged, but, for now, there should not be any changes at the store level.

“We don’t anticipate any change, but we're always ready to stand by our membership and fight for our members, in case they're ever attacked on their wages, hours and working conditions,” he said.

Manna and other UFCW members were outside the Tops location on Amherst Street in Buffalo Wednesday to officially endorse Democratic nominee India Walton for Buffalo mayor. Manna said they believe “workers are going to be first and foremost” in a Walton administration.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.