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Closure of grocery distribution centers could affect 700 Md. jobs

About 700 workers could be affected by the upcoming closure of two grocery distribution centers in Prince George’s County, but it was not clear Wednesday how many would ultimately lose their jobs.

Wilmington, Del.-based Collington Services LLC, which provides grocery-distribution services to Safeway Inc., and is a subsidiary of Keene, N.H.-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, said it would close its distribution centers at Leeland Road in Upper Marlboro and at Columbia Park Road in Landover.

Collington Services notified the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation on Wednesday that it would lay off 191 workers, starting Dec. 5 and continuing past Jan. 1.

Later on Wednesday, in response to an inquiry from The Daily Record, Collington Services issued a statement saying the closures “potentially could affect about 700 full- and part-time employees.”

The company said it would make new job opportunities in other distribution centers in Maryland and Pennsylvania that would serve Safeway stores after the closures. C&S Wholesale Grocers and its affiliates operate two other distribution centers in Maryland, with more than 360 employees. They are on Lums Road in North East, Cecil County, and on Old Philadelphia Road in Aberdeen, Harford County.

“This is a very difficult situation,” said Mark Pitts, director of warehouse operations at Collington Services, in the 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.”

According to the company, its unionized employees are represented primarily by Teamsters Locals 639 and 730, which represent about 180 and 400 employees, respectively. Twenty employees are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 99, and 13 employees are represented by the International Association of Machinists Local 1486.

Collington Services said in the statement that it had invited all of the unions affiliated with the Upper Marlboro and Landover facilities to discuss the shutdown and its effects on the employees they represent.

The Upper Marlboro site distributes dry and fresh groceries. The Landover site distributes general merchandise.

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said in a statement it would reach out to the company and provide services as needed.