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USF to Close Connecticut Distribution Center

SOUTH WINDSOR, CT - About 100 workers will lose their jobs Feb. 20 when U.S. Foodservice, the second largest distributor in the U.S., closes its distribution center here, the Hartford Courant reported today.

Thomas Gilmartin Jr., secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 559, said he is trying to negotiate a severance package for about 80 workers that the union represents.

Town Manager Matthew B. Galligan said the company notified him of the closing but has not disclosed its plans for the plant on Nutmeg Road North.

The Columbia, MD-based subsidiary of Dutch global corporation Royal Ahold, which owns the Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., told the workers in September that the plant would close two days before Thanksgiving, but the union managed to delay the plan.

After the closing announcement, the union told the company that it would seek a court order to keep the plant open so a hearing could be held on the union's grievance. The company agreed to keep the plant open temporarily. Officials for the union told a federal arbitrator last month that the union had an agreement with the company preventing it from closing the facility until April 2005.

But in an opinion this week, the arbitrator said the agreement prohibited job transfers and subcontracting and did not prevent the plant from closing.

The company told the union last year that workers would have to agree to 25 percent to 30 percent cuts in wages and benefits to prevent the plant from closing, Gilmartin said.

The union proposed that the cuts affect new workers, but the company did not respond to the proposal, Gilmartin said. He said the wages and benefits were comparable to other U.S. Foodservice centers in the Northeast.

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