C&S Wholesale Grocers has told state authorities in Maryland that it would be closing two distribution facilities serving Safeway stores by Dec. 5.
The Keene, N.H., distributor intends to consolidate the distribution at the facilities to other C&S operated locations in Cecil County, Md., and in Pennsylvania, according to Tyrone Richardson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 730, a union representing some of the 700 full- and part-time workers expected to be impacted by the closures.
The facilities, doing business under the Collington Services name, include a grocery and perishable warehouse in Upper Marlboro, Md., and a general merchandise warehouse in Landover, Md. Those plants employ 191 workers.
According to Richardson, C&S intends to move the perishable distribution to a facility in North East, Md., with Safeway’s grocery distribution moving to C&S’s automated warehouse in York, Pa., and its general merchandise distribution to a facility in Bethlehem, Pa. C&S said new job opportunities would be created in those distribution facilities upon the cessation of operations in Upper Marlboro and Landover.
“This is a very difficult situation,” Mark Pitts, director of warehouse operations for Collington Services, said in a statement. “We intend to work closely with the unions that represent our employees and with our non-union associates in order to ensure that everyone can participate in a transition plan that is fair and equitable.”
In addition to Teamsters Local 730, which represents around 400 workers, employees are represented by Teamsters Local 639 (180 workers); the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 99 (20 workers); and the International Association of Machinists Local 1486 (13 workers). Richardson told SN Thursday that the union and its lawyers were exploring ways to stop the closures. Local 730 has a contract with Collington that is set to expire in May.
A C&S spokesman declined to say whether the planned closures are expected to result in better buying terms for Safeway and would not provide a reason for the closure. Albertsons Cos., which took control of Safeway earlier this year, has said distribution center consolidation would be among targets of synergy savings.
Safeway owns the Upper Marlboro facility, which opened with the help of $2 million in state incentives in 1998. A spokesman for Safeway's Eastern Division told SN Thursday that the company intended to sell the facility. "The decision to sell is part of our long-term strategy to support our retail stores more effectively," he said.
This story was updated late Thursday with comments from Safeway.
|Suggested Categories||More from Supermarket News|