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Rahall and Rockefeller want SuperValu to stay open

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Nick J. Rahall and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., want a Milton warehouse that employees 100 people to stay open.

Rahall and Rockefeller sent letters to Sam Duncan, CEO of SuperValu Inc., asking him to reconsider the company's decision to close its warehouse in Milton sometime in April.

Rahall asked Duncan to work with state and local officials to look at all alternatives to keep the warehouse operational.

"For the sake of the employees and your customers in West Virginia, I hope that you will at least open a dialogue to those willing to assist you and consider all the alternatives available to keep this facility in operation," Rahall wrote.

Rahall also contacted the West Virginia Development Office and Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, as well as other state and local officials who would be willing to meet with SuperValu officials to help the company maintain its distribution center in Milton.

Kellie Shamblin, vice president of Teamsters Local 175, based in South Charleston, said union officials have not yet met with SuperValu officials to discuss the scheduled closing.

Rahall wrote, "The public sector investments we have made to assist the private sector are tailor-made for companies like SuperValu. These resources can help SuperValu continue its commitment to both their local workforce and their loyal West Virginia customers.

"All we are asking for is the opportunity to make our best case by putting our public-private resource assistance to work. I hope the company will reconsider its decision to close its Milton warehouse," Rahall wrote.

SuperValu owns Save-a-Lot stores, but its Milton warehouse services other independent grocery stores, including Foodland and Fas-Chek.

Rockefeller also sent a letter to Duncan, stating he hopes the company will examine every opportunity to remain open.

Rockefeller urged Duncan to work with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; and Ken Hall, international secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters, to keep jobs in Milton.

Hall said the Milton warehouse employs about 100 people, 60 of whom are represented by the Teamsters.

"The average age of the unionized workforce is 57 years old with an average of 30 years of service with the company. The closing is also a significant blow to the local economy as well as to the state of West Virginia," Hall stated.

Luke Farley, a lawyer for Teamsters Local 175, said the local has already started distributing a petition - to local people and local storeowners - asking SuperValu to keeps jobs in the area.

In his letter to Duncan, Rahall said government experts are ready to discuss the needs of Supervalu to keep its Milton center open.

"In terms of assisting with marketing, labor, and transportation benefit analysis, we want to be able to fairly compete with any region of the country by helping companies get the whole picture of business opportunities here in the Mountain State."

Rahall also said the Rahall Transportation Institute in Huntington is willing to work with SuperValu representatives to evaluate the impact infrastructure improvements -- such as the Prichard Intermodal facility in nearby Wayne County and the Heartland Corridor -- could have on SuperValu's business operations in Milton. Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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