Acme Fresh Market is offering a buyout to two categories of its workers.
President Steve Albrecht confirmed Friday that the Akron-based grocer is offering buyouts to “checker clerk cashiers” and “deli clerks” at all of its 15 stores.
Albrecht said while the company has done layoffs in the past — as part of slowdowns in the industry — these buyouts are not being offered as a means of reduction or in lieu of layoffs.
He acknowledged that buyouts can be used as a means to reduce employee levels voluntarily, but said, “we’re not in layoff mode.”
Instead, this move is designed to help longtime employees, Albrecht said.
“We get calls from associates who have long service who are thinking about retiring, and so, from time to time, we’ve done this in the past. We have a buyout strategy for certain positions, which we’ve done at this time,” he said.
The memo for the buyouts — a $20,000 separation payment and the employees’ 2013 vacation and personal days if the employee leaves before March 1 — was posted near time clocks at all stores last week, Albrecht said.
The buyouts will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and some employees already have taken the offer, Albrecht said.
There is an internal limit of how many buyouts the company will offer, but Albrecht declined to disclose details.
“It’s strictly voluntary, and they appreciate it,” he said of the buyouts.
Albrecht said the move will open opportunities for other employees who would like to advance or take on different responsibilities.
Any employee in the two classifications is eligible, and there are many senior employees in that category with anywhere from 10 to 30 years of service, Albrecht said.
In response to allegations that the company has been reducing or eliminating full-time employees’ work hours in favor of part-time workers, Albrecht said all employees get contributions toward a pension and there are levels of health care for part- and full-time workers.
“We need to have a certain number of full time, and they’re our core. ... Every retail outlet needs a component of part time to expand and contract based as the business expands and contracts,” he said.
The company most recently laid off workers last February, when 45 workers were cut.
As of Dec. 31, Acme said it employed 1,452 full-time equivalent workers.
A spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880, which represents hourly workers at Acme, did not return a call seeking comment about the buyouts.
Albrecht said the buyout offer notification went through the union.