Duane Reade is about to send half of its Maspeth warehouse workers packing.
The company, which has been a subsidiary of Walgreens since 2010, said it will lay off the unionized workers at its distribution center at 50-02 55th Avenue by next June.
The first round of cuts will begin on December 6 with 120 employees, and another 100 will be shown the door in April 2014, the company said. Currently, the company employs about 400 workers at the site.
“It was surprising because everything was going well,” said Michael Hayles, who has worked at the center for more than a year but will be laid off next month. “Hopefully, I’ll find another job.”
The distribution center has been in service since 1998 and steadily increased in operation.
But because of the increase, the company said that the building is too small, the ceiling height is too low and they would not be able to expand at the site.
“We are making these changes in Maspeth because the physical design of this distribution center is not up to standards necessary for a state-of-the art distribution system that is efficient, effective and customer responsive,” the company said in a statement.
Because the workers are members of the union Teamsters Local 210, they were able to get a severance package.
Duane Reade has agreed to pay the employees one week pay for each year they have worked at the center, as well as time-and-a-half for sick days and personal days.
The company has also hosted job fairs at the center and is scheduling workers for interviews with other employers. However, many say they are still searching for new options.
“It’s frustrating because no matter how much of an injustice you see it to be, there’s nothing you can do about it because the laws allow it,” a spokesperson from the union said.