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Latest News - July 2011

July 14, 2011
Dunmore distributor closing in September; 200 jobs lost

A Dunmore distribution facility will close in September, putting about 200 people out of work.

Ocean Logistics notified state officials on Tuesday its warehouse will cease operations by Sept. 25 at the Keystone Industrial Park.

"Most of the people up there are there for more than 30 years," said Craig Pawlik, principal officer of Teamsters Local 229, Scranton, which represents 163 people at the facility. "It's a terrible blow to those people."

The 274,000-square-foot warehouse operated for many years as Super Market Service, a division of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. More than 300 people worked at the plant at its peak.

The grocery chain, known as A&P, sold the 22.5-acre site along Keystone Industrial Park Road to Ocean Logistics in January 2006 for $3.78 million, according to Lackawanna County property records.

A&P, which is based in Montvale, N.J., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last December, listing debts of $3.2 billion and assets of $2.5 billion.

Ocean Logistics is a subsidiary of C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. Based in Keene, N.H., C&S is the nation's largest grocery distributor, supplying 3,900 supermarkets from more than 50 locations in 11 states.

C&S officials issued a statement blaming the closing on a unidentified customer's decision to resume its own grocery distribution operations. Some of C&S's facilities supply a single client, according to the statement.

Pawlik, a former dockworker at the plant, said A&P is the warehouse's sole customer. Workers at the plant process and ship health and beauty products, such as toothpaste and shampoo, and some housewares and spices, he said.

Union workers at the plant earn $15 an hour, he said.

"Locally, where are you going to go?" Pawlik asked. "There's nothing here."

The facility's termination reflects the worst side of an economy that has been slumping for years, said Austin Burke, president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

"The economy is so convoluted right now, especially among large retailers," he said. "You have companies in bankruptcy, companies cutting back and changing the way they have done business for 100 years. It sound like these workers got caught in a national crossfire not of their making."

C&S officials said Ocean Logistics employees will be eligible to apply for other company positions. After the Dunmore facility closes, C&S reported, it will still operate five facilities in the state employing 2,000 people.

Last month, C&S notified the state that it will close a warehouse in Harrisburg in August and put 240 people out of work.

Super Market Service, a former unit of A&P, originated in Scranton in 1951 and relocated to Dunmore in 1966. A&P acquired the site at the industrial park in 1971 that now houses Ocean Logistics.



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