Union, Giant Food strike deal on 341 jobs
Grocer transferring warehouse operations in Jessup; buyouts still an option
Continuous negotiations with a major labor union have apparently ensured that Giant Food's decision to outsource its Jessup distribution business will not result in a loss of jobs.
The region's top supermarket chain entered into a tentative agreement to transfer its dry grocery business to Jessup Logistics, an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers of Keene, N.H., this year. Giant Food's regional headquarters are in Landover and is owned by Royal Ahold of the Netherlands.
"We have reached agreement with Teamsters Local 730 concerning the effects of the transfer and hope to reach agreement with the remaining local unions impacted by this tentative transaction in the coming weeks," Giant spokesman Jamie Miller wrote in an e-mailed statement on Monday.
A union spokesman was more specific.
Under the union agreement reached this month, Giant will guarantee 341 jobs at all times in Jessup, said Ritchie Brooks, president of Teamsters Local 730. Union employees who choose to take the buyout Giant is currently offering through the transition to Jessup Logistics will be replaced by part-time employees according to seniority, he said. The buyout offer lasts through Sept. 30.
Teamsters Local 730 of Washington, D.C., represents about 500 union workers at the Jessup warehouse, including 341 full-time employees.
In June, Giant was not guaranteeing the jobs, although the company was promising that it would replace the laid-off employees with the part-time workers, Brooks said.
"We basically stood our ground," he said.
Brooks and the Teamsters threatened to leaflet stores in and out of Maryland and to send hundreds of his members' Giant bonus cards back to Giant if the company did not honor the union's agreement.
"This is about guaranteed jobs," Brooks said, adding that privately held C&S is known for weakening unions by eliminating union jobs. He said in some C&S operations, automated systems have been used to reduce 600 positions to 100.
"It's time for people to stand up to these big companies."
According to Forbes magazine, C&S is the nation's largest food wholesaler and 12th largest privately held company in the U.S. It has 50 warehouses in 11 states with annual sales of $19 billion.