Attorneys for grocers Pathmark, Waldbaum and The Food Emporium say the union orchestrated a Memorial Day weekend scare campaign in which brochures distributed outside their stores suggested frozen meat could have been warehoused for years, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.
"The statement that by buying fresh meat, 'customers never have to wonder how old fresh meat and hamburger patties are,' is a clear reference that customers should worry that frozen patties are old," the lawsuit says.
The flier distributed May 23-26 asked: "Why buy frozen patties shipped in from who knows where? Who knows how long they have been laying around a warehouse? Frozen meat may have been frozen for years!"
The fliers were distributed outside stores in New York City, as well as the rest of Long Island.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342 says it was attempting to drum up business because meat department workers' hours have been cut. Union attorney Ira Wincott said the local believes the stores' sales were up that weekend and attributed the increase to the fliers.