A&P Food Stores and the United Farmworkers Union may be close to an agreement that would end a year-long boycott of A&P's New England stores, sources close to A&P and the UFW said yesterday.
The UFW has boycotted A&P stores throughout the country because A&P sells non-UFW lettuce and grapes and Gallo wine, which is made from non-UFW grapes.
A&P, the largest supermarket chain in the country, is the only major chain in the Boston area that has not already stopped selling non-UFW lettuce and grapes. First National, Purity Supreme, Star Market and Stop and Shop have all agreed to sell only UFW lettuce and grapes as long as they are available.
Negotiators for A&P and the UFW met on Monday and the farmworkers presented A&P lawyers with their proposal to end the boycott.
The proposal calls for a total A&P commitment to sell only UFW grapes and to stop selling Gallo wine, as well as commitment to sell 95 per cent UFW lettuce.
A&P is considering the proposal and has said it will respond by Monday, the sources said. A&P initiated the negotiations.
Negotiations were scheduled three weeks ago, but A&P cancelled them after the UFW boycott was endorsed by the AFL-CIO. UFW negotiators speculated at that time that A&P wanted to assess the effect of the endorsement before going to the bargaining table.
The boycott has been growing in New England since it began a year ago with six local stores. Now UFW supporters picket over 60 A&P stores throughout New England three days a week.
A spokesman for A&P acknowledged yesterday that A&P's New England sales have fallen because of the boycott and that they are willing to negotiate because of the drop in sales.
"They have to be really hurting in New England, or why else would they be negotiating? That's what the A&P lawyers kept stressing on Monday," one source said.
A&P sells International Brotherhood of Teamsters grapes and lettuce. Gallo-which produces 40 per cent of all California wine-recently signed a contract with the Teamsters.
Barbara Kunhardt, an organizer for the Cambridge Committee to Support Farm Workers, said yesterday that the most important thing to the UFW now is the commitment to grapes because of upcoming strike activity by grape workers this summer.
Mary M. Lassen '75 said yesterday the picketing of local A&P stores will continue until the agreement is made definite. "Our hopes have been raised before, so we're cautious about being optimistic," she said.
If A&P does agree to sell only UFW goods, UFW supporters will concentrate on picketing area liquor stores that sell Gallo wines, Lassen said