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Union hires fired Acme produce manager

From the Inquirer

A union representing local supermarket workers said yesterday that it had given a temporary job to a former Acme produce manager it claims was wrongly fired for removing the price tag from a pair of $9 reading glasses and using them for his work.

Acme Markets Inc. declined to discuss the case involving Bob Martucci, a 34-year veteran fired in January for violation of the company’s employee-purchase policy, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

In comments to Martucci’s union, which is fighting his dismissal through arbitration, Acme had said his firing was consistent with the company’s efforts to uniformly enforce such policies. Acme said it had also recently fired a manager for removing and then returning an ice scraper from a store, union officials said. Such policies are considered critical in the retail industry.

Martucci, 51, had worked at the Acme in Haddon Township until he was fired in January. A story about him and his incidental relationship with a longtime customer who had only known him by his first name, appeared in Sunday’s Inquirer.

That customer, also named Bob, had read a recent story about Acme in The Inquirer. He then sent an e-mail to the reporter and described a heartfelt affection for Acme and the produce manager who had vanished from the local store he had frequented for 15 years. He expressed concern about the man’s family during the recession.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1360, which represents 3,000 Acme workers in South Jersey, hired Martucci on a temporary basis while his case works its way toward an arbitration hearing – a process that could last as long as a year, said union president Sam Ferraino.

Ferraino said Local 1360 had received dozens of calls and letters from Inquirer readers expressing concern about Martucci. The union wanted to help the produce manager get back on his feet, he said.

“I guess it goes to the old saying, charity starts at home,” Ferraino said. “If you can’t do something for somebody in your own organization, who can you help?”

Martucci, a former shop steward who, according to the union, had an unblemished personnel record before the eyeglass incident, was “overwhelmed” by the job offer, Ferraino said.

“He said, ‘I can’t believe it,’ ” Ferraino said. “He said, ‘You don’t know what this means to me and my family.’ I’m glad we could help.”

The owner of a South Jersey ShopRite called the union to say he wanted to hire Martucci, but did not immediately have a position, Ferraino said. Martucci and his family had fallen into foreclosure after he was fired.

Martucci, who reported to work yesterday as a union representative, will visit employees in Acme stores in Philadelphia and South Jersey as UFCW conducts contract negotiations with the company, Ferraino said. The South Jersey union’s contract expires April 25; Acme employees in Southeastern Pennsylvania have been working under an extended contract since Feb. 2, 2008, and have been in negotiations with management.

Martucci will work for and be paid jointly by Local 1360 and its sister group in Philadelphia, Local 1776, Ferraino said.

The union says it has a strong chance of winning Martucci’s reinstatement, in part, because the nonprescription glasses never left the store, Ferraino said. Martucci had taken them off a rack as he worked to meet an inventory deadline Jan. 19. He had forgotten his reading glasses at home, union officials said.

Ferraino said he would ask Acme today to expedite Martucci’s hearing.

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20090329_A_DELICATE_MATTER.html

Do you think this was right to do especially in today’s tough times? Does this change whether you would shop at ACME?
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13 Responses

  1. This is just wrong. They should have suspended him for a day, two at most. If you have a facebook account, there is a group you can join called: Acme Markets: Restore Bob Martucci to his job

  2. I agree with Sean.

  3. I agree Sean, especially in these times.

  4. BTW, to answer the last question on the post, yes, it has change my shopping. I really don’t like the Acme here because it smells and I have bought 3 day old meat. I didn’t look at the date stamped until I got home and looked closer. Brought it back but they didn’t offer an apology. I used the place only when I really needed something quick because I live a block away. Will not use the store. My daughter wanted to rent a movie from the Red Box but drove her down to Super Fresh instead.

  5. Wegman’s is way better, and they have a chinese buffet right there. You can’t beat that.

  6. This was jus the first time he got caught….how do we know he wasn’t doing this once per week? Theft in retail is a huge issue and one that needs to be dealt with in a mature adult way.

    Letting this person go sets a bad example for other employees…and a precedent.

  7. He worked there for over 30 years. What precedent? I will never shop there again. I have never liked the Acme, but it was close to home and would pick up items that I needed for the week. NEVER AGAIN! I only shopped there because of the people not the prices or quality.

  8. I had said above that I agreed he shouldn’t be fired. I had forgotten we ordered a cake for my daughter’s engagement party a couple of years ago with two baby pics on it. A friend picked it up and when I saw it I flipped. The faces were all green! It was too late to do anything about it. I haven’t gone back since but this reconfirms my decision!

  9. Jalto, did you read the article? He has worked for Acme for over 30 years with a spotless record. Firing at 30 year employee sets a bad example. Suspending him would have been the proper thing to do.

  10. Sean…I did read the article….did you read my post? Yes maybe he made one bad decision…or maybe he does this every month and this was ONLY the first time he was caught.

    At what tenure year does it make it ok to steal?

  11. you have a very negative perspective. 30 years is a long time to be employed and have a spotless record. He should warned, written up or suspended but fired , no. If I remember correctly, he did this to get his job done not to just randomly steal from the store. I’m sure he did not even think of it as stealing. Yes, maybe it was a wrong decision but on the other hand he probably would have ben fird for not doing his job.

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