2012-05-30 / Features

Pathmark Pulling Up Stakes In LIC

BY LIZ GOFF

Store and union officials met with employees at the Long Island City Pathmark Supermarket on May 29 to deliver some bad news.

The supermarket that has been a fixture in the community for more than three decades is closing its doors later this summer.

News of the closure did not come as a surprise to long-time Pathmark employees.

“I heard this rumor three years ago,” one employee said. “It’s been rumored since A&P bought the Pathmark chain.”

Employees said another rumor has been circulating. “There’s word that Stop ‘N Shop is moving from 48th Street to this location,” the employees said. “But nothing is certain.”

A union shop steward who has worked at the store for nearly 12 years told the Gazette that a dwindling customer base forced A&P officials to target the Long Island City store for closure.

“So many people in this area are shopping at big box stores like Costco,” the employee said. “This used to be a Super Store that had lots of products available in large bundles. But stores like this can’t compete with Costco, so those deals disappeared and people found them at these other stores.”

Threats of job cuts encouraged disgruntled Pathmark employees last year to settle a contract dispute with A&P, workers said. “We ended up agreeing to a 50 percent cut in future salary and benefit packages – with the promise that when things get better for the company, they’ll get better for us,” the workers said. “What a crock.”

When the store closes in three months, Pathmark employees with five or more years on the job will have the opportunity to transfer to another Pathmark store, a Waldbaum’s or A&P store, the union rep said. Each of the stores are part of the A&P family, he said.

“People who have been here less than five years will lose their jobs,” he said. “That’s a real shame, because most of them are young kids, working to pay for college or helping out at home. In this economy it’s going to be tough for them to find other jobs.” The store will close permanently on August 27.

Officials said customers can take advantage of Pathmark prices by visiting their store on Farrington Street, just off Northern Boulevard in Flushing.

“This is rough,” a 19-year-old cashier said. “Tuition is going up 50 percent and I’m out of a job by September,” the young woman said. “If I can’t get another job right away, I have to quit college,” she said. “This is so unfair. I can’t believe it.”

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