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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. - C&S Wholesale Grocers here, the country's second-largest wholesale grocery distributor, has announced plans to close its warehouses in Andover, Mass.; Cranston, R.I.; and Portland, Maine. Three hundred and seventy-five jobs at the Andover, Mass. warehouse; 276 in Cranston, R.I.; and 116 in Portland will move to nonunion facilities in Windsor Locks, Conn. and Brattleboro.
The union for employees at the Andover and Cranston facilities says that not many workers will accept the company's offer. Andover employees would earn $6 to $8 per hour less and lose their health and retirement benefits, said Jerry Warren, chief steward of the Teamsters Local 42, which represents the plant's 275 truckers and warehouse workers.
According to company spokesman Carl Wistreich, the warehouses, which C&S acquired from Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu, Inc., are too costly to run. Last year Supervalu and C&S made an agreement to trade assets, with C&S getting Supervalu's New England inventory and distribution centers in Cranston; Andover; Portland, Maine; and a closed facility in Suffield, Conn. Supervalu got C&S's Midwest operations. Wistreich pointed out that employee charges of union busting were unfair, adding that 40 percent of C&S's remaining 10,000 workers belong to the Teamsters Union.
Around half of the 91 nonunion office workers and managers have been offered positions, Wistreich said, while at least some union workers will be offered jobs. But because the other plants are not unionized, pay still has to be negotiated, he noted.
The warehouses are scheduled to close April 4.
C&S, a privately owned company with sales of almost $13 billion, delivers groceries to more than 3,000 stores from its 30 distribution centers across the country.