(WASHINGTON) – Teamsters are calling for Safeway to keep good jobs in Maryland, after the company unexpectedly issued a notice that it plans to start closing its Upper Marlboro and Landover, Md., grocery distribution facilities 19 days before Christmas, resulting in the layoff of more than 700 workers.
The warehouse workers, members of Teamsters Locals 730 and 639, based in Washington, D.C., received a 60-day layoff notice from C&S Wholesale Grocers, which operates the Safeway-owned facilities. Safeway intends to close the operation, with plans to send the bulk of these family-supporting jobs to Pennsylvania.
In a letter to Robert Miller, the CEO of Albertsons Companies, Inc., which recently acquired Safeway, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa called on the company to enact a moratorium on the closure. Read the letter, here: http://ibt.io/26401.
“I believe there are options that have not yet been explored,” Hoffa said. “I am asking you to enact a 180-day moratorium on the closure while your staff, Maryland and Prince George’s County public officials and Teamsters-appointed experts meet to discuss alternatives, with the goal of saving good Maryland jobs.”
“I have had two occurrences of esophageal cancer since 2009, with two rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Losing my job and my health insurance would be medically devastating,” said Earl Walton, a 19-year driver and senior shop steward. “I’m 59 years old, and I don’t see myself getting hired for another job. I’ve been driving for 40 years. I don’t know how to do anything else. We had our pay frozen for five years back when Safeway was building its new warehouse and threatened to outsource the work—so for Safeway to treat us like this now makes me sick.”
“The greed of this multi-billion dollar private equity firm is unmatched. Workers here have spent decades working night shifts, weekends and holidays to make Safeway a profitable company. We will do whatever it takes to save these jobs,” said Thomas Ratliff, President of Local 639.
“I’m only about a year away from retirement, and now Safeway’s going to put me and my kids out on the street,” said Larry Hudson, a 29-year grocery department employee in Safeway’s Upper Marlboro facility. “I don’t know why Safeway didn’t discuss it with us—we are willing to sit down and negotiate with them. We’re in a perfect location right now—it doesn’t make sense for Safeway to move these jobs up to Pennsylvania so that they can drive for hours to bring the groceries back down to Maryland and Virginia stores.”
“These are hardworking people, with families, and we will fight together to ensure that they are protected,” said Ritchie Brooks, President of Teamsters Local 730. “A decision that impacts more than 700 workers, their families and communities should not be made lightly.”
Safeway built the $91 million state-of-the-art Upper Marlboro distribution center in 1998, after receiving $2 million from Maryland taxpayers. Safeway has also received more than $7 million in concessions from these distribution center employees over the past 15 years in order to defray costs.
Safeway was acquired this year by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., which merged Albertsons and Safeway.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.