US Foods and one of two Teamsters locals in Severn reach agreement over warehouse closure

One of two striking Teamsters locals in Severn reach agreement with US Foods over warehouse closing.

US Foods and the Teamsters local representing striking warehouse workers at a Severn distribution center have reached an agreement over the planned closure of the facility, the company said Thursday.

Members of Local 570 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ratified the agreement Wednesday night, the company said in a statement.

"Last night union members ratified the agreement, which provides them with severance, health care and transition assistance," Debra Ceffalio, a US Foods spokeswoman, said in the statement. "Closing this facility was a difficult decision; however, it was necessary to more cost-effectively service our customers throughout the area by removing excess capacity and reducing overlap between our distribution centers."

The local has agreed to end its picketing against the company, she said.

The workers had been on strike since April. A representative of Local 570 could not be reached.

Denis Taylor, president of Teamsters Local 355, said Thursday that US Foods drivers represented by that local have not reached an agreement with the company and continue to picket.

"We're still hoping to reach an agreement," Taylor said.

Ratification by the warehouse workers came on the same day that workers at a US Foods distribution center in Minnesota launched a "sympathy" strike in support of the Severn workers. Members of Teamsters Local 120, which represents 325 drivers, warehouse, yard and maintenance workers and office staff in Plymouth, Minn., became the latest group to start an extended picket line, which most employees across day and night shifts are honoring, a Teamsters spokesman said Thursday.

The two locals in Maryland represent about 180 warehouse workers, truck drivers and mechanics. The locals had said US Foods bargained in bad faith about its decision to close the Anne Arundel County facility sometime this month. The company, which announced tentative plans to close the warehouse last June, made the decision final in April, citing declining sales and an inability to reach an agreement to cut costs with the union.

US Foods filed notice with the state in April that it plans to move operations to Pennsylvania and Virginia, and lay off 304 workers in Severn. The company said its decision was based on declining volume in the Washington, D.C., area market.

US Foods workers in New Jersey, Indiana, Colorado, Michigan, Washington, Illinois, New York and Ohio took steps to honor the Maryland picket line last month, part of the more than 2,800 Teamsters at US Food who have either gone out on strike or honored picket lines at some point since late April, according to the Teamsters.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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