Farmer Jack Employees Looking for a Way Out
By George Anderson
This isn’t a story about extramarital infidelity, but Elmore James’ words seem appropriate for workers at Farmer Jack’s stores. “Ain’t but one way out baby. Lord I just can’t go out the door.”
Next Tuesday, employees of the chain will vote on whether to accept a new labor agreement with A&P that would mean a 10 percent cut in wages, less overtime and fewer personal days.
Should members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 876 choose not to accept the offer, they will be faced with a number of undesirable options, including the chain going out of business or being sold to a non-union competitor.
UFCW Local 876 President Victoria Collins was blunt in her assessment. “Farmer Jack members are facing the biggest crisis of our working lives. This is a one shot deal to try to save the stores and the jobs.”
Even with a deal, it seems likely that A&P will close 15 unprofitable Farmer Jack stores.
The question remaining for many is whether any union concession will save Farmer Jack.
David Livingston, Principal, DJL Research and RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, offered this glass is completely empty assessment: “A&P has never fixed anything in my lifetime.”
Another retail analyst, Kenneth Dalto, had a similar evaluation. “Farmer Jack is in a never-never world where everything they do right now is not going to be good enough for A&P. To keep it would mean a major infusion of capital, restructuring of stores and distribution networks that I don’t think A&P is prepared to make.”
Moderator’s Comment: What will it take to fix Farmer Jack?
The character in Elmore James’ song had the option of going out the door or climbing out on a ledge where he might fall off. Neither option was good there
and the same is true for Farmer Jack’s employees. –
George Anderson – Moderator