April 28, 2009
BIRMINGHAM, AL – Today’s decision by US Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin Cohen to uphold the contract between Bruno’s Inc. and more than 2,000 workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 1657 opened the door to a fresh start for the Bruno’s name. Lone Star Funds, a private-equity firm based in New York that purchased Bruno’s in the late 1990s, had asked Judge Cohen to void the contract, which would have enabled a new owner to take over the stores without honoring the commitments made to thousands of hourly employees.
“We are delighted with Judge Cohen’s decision, which will help keep thousands of good jobs in Alabama and Florida,” said Elaise Fox, president of UFCW Local 1657. “By requiring Bruno’s to honor its promises, the court ensured that Bruno’s workers will be essential players in the revitalization of this celebrated company.”
Bruno’s assets are scheduled to be sold at auction on April 29th. Last week, members of UFCW Local 1657 took steps to authorize a strike in the event that Judge Cohen voided the contract. Today, the union announced that, while many members supported the authorization, no strike would be called.
Fox continued: “The company’s attempts to evade accountability made perfectly clear that Bruno’s workers needed to look after themselves. Bruno’s workers were prepared to do exactly that, with many of them supporting a strike if the contract was voided. Fortunately, such serious measures weren’t necessary, and UFCW members will stay on the job serving Bruno’s customers.”
UFCW Local 1657, based in Birmingham, represents more than 3,500 grocery and health care workers in Alabama and Florida.