Teamsters Union leaders, elected officials and representatives of Safeway announced an agreement to stop the closure of the Safeway Collington Distribution Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The agreement will save more than 700 Teamster warehouse jobs and add an additional 25 jobs at the center.
The agreement also paves the way for possible expansion in the future as Safeway’s parent company, Albertsons, continues to grow its footprint on the East Coast.
C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., the firm that operates the Safeway distribution center and employs its workers, originally planned to move its warehouse operations to Pennsylvania, which would have displaced more than 700 workers, most of whom live in Prince George’s County. Under the terms of the agreement, Safeway will take over operation of the Collington Distribution Center and current C&S employees—represented by Teamsters Locals 730 and 639 in Washington, D.C.—will become Safeway employees.
In two separate votes, Teamsters members voted overwhelmingly in favor of an agreement that preserves their jobs. Local 730 members voted 205-18 and Local 639 members voted 135-4 to approve the agreement. The new collective bargaining agreement with Safeway guarantees no outsourcing of jobs during the term of the contract which expires in May of 2022.
“We are very pleased to know that, through unity, anything is possible,” said Robert Washington, a Local 730 shop steward who works at Safeway.
In an October letter, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa called upon Robert Miller, the CEO of Albertsons Companies, Inc., which recently acquired Safeway, to enact a moratorium on the closures.
Maryland State Senator C. Anthony Muse and former State Delegate Aisha N. Braveboy, Esq., also urged C&S and Safeway to recall the notices sent to employees stating that layoffs would begin the week before Christmas. The layoff notices were delayed until mid-February, allowing time for all parties to work together to find an alternative to the closure.
“This agreement allows skilled employees to continue to work for a company that they loved and sacrificed for, some for more than 30 years,” said Ritchie Brooks, President of Local 730. “The key to this is that everyone banded together. Labor, political leaders and the community all came together to show Safeway our solidarity.”
Local and state officials have pledged nearly $1.5 million in financial incentives to keep the warehouse in the county through the term of the collective bargaining agreement.