The union representing workers for US retailer A&P has described the troubled company’s demands for concessions, givebacks and co-pays as “outrageous”.

Alongside last week’s announcement of poor results for the second quarter of the retailer’s fiscal year, A&P chief executive Sam Martin said it was “in talks” with unions to reduce labour costs.

However, John Niccollai, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 464A, has said the moves would mean a US$65 a week pay cut for each worker. “If the companies are serious, it will leave us no alternative to strike,” he said.

Speaking to just-food today (26 October), Niccollai said negotiations with A&P “are not going well at all” and that the union is “gearing up for a strike” if it does not have a contract agreed by midnight on Saturday.

However Niccollai hopes strike action will not be necessary. “We very much want to avoid a strike. Strikes do not solve anything, they just drag things out,” he said.

According to the union, A&P is seeking additional concessions from employees including a $75 per week co-pay for family full-time health care, a new hire package which reduces holidays, vacations, sick leave and pay scales and a refusal to make the necessary pension contributions, reducing the amount of full time and part-time pension benefits.

Niccollai said that the union understands A&P is enduring “difficult times” and that the union wants to “be helpful if we can”.

However, he added that the union “can’t have wage cuts” and that the proposed cuts are “too severe”.