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Grocer mum on how many workers closings will affect

Union leaders hope to minimize the effect on workers of five store closings. Union leaders hope to minimize the effect on workers of five store closings. (The Boston Globe/File)
By Katie Johnston Chase
Globe Staff / January 6, 2011

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Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. is planning to close five unprofitable stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island by Feb. 17, affecting hundreds of workers.

The Massachusetts locations are in New Bedford, Stoneham, and Revere; the Rhode Island stores are in Warwick and Johnston.

“Given the competitive markets we operate in, and today’s difficult economic environment, it is occasionally necessary to close those stores that are not profitable,’’ the grocery chain said yesterday. The West Bridgewater company declined to say how many workers would be affected.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 791, which represents workers at the New Bedford and both Rhode Island stores, said it has about 300 union members in the three stores. Some may be shifted to other union stores, based on seniority.

The union, which reached an agreement with Shaw’s last summer after Methuen warehouse workers went on strike for four months, plans to meet with Shaw’s officials tomorrow.

“We try to minimize the number of people that are directly affected, and we’ll do everything we can to assist those that are ultimately affected by the layoffs,’’ said Peter Derouen, spokesman for Local 791.

Shaw’s, which has 174 Shaw’s and Star Market stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, has closed 20 other stores in the past year. Parent company Supervalu Inc. sold all 18 Connecticut stores in February.

Katie Johnston Chase can be reached at johnstonchase@globe.com.