70 laid off at trucker's Shore office Cutback part of bid to revitalize Preston

March 06, 1993|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Staff Writer

About 70 nonunion workers were laid off yesterday at Preston Trucking Co.'s headquarters in Caroline County as part of a move by Yellow Freight Systems Inc. to help make Preston profitable again.

In all, Yellow Freight laid off 150 nonunion Preston employees and said it was seeking a 9 percent temporary wage reduction from the trucking company's remaining 5,600 workers.

The layoffs at Preston's corporate headquarters in tiny Preston affected office workers and management. Other Preston layoffs were scattered at Preston terminals throughout the Northwest and Central states.

For the Eastern Shore, it was the second significant layoff recently. Campbell Soup Co. laid off 800 workers last month in Salisbury.

The cost reduction moves -- expected to save some $20 million over the next year -- came just weeks after Yellow Freight finalized its takeover of the financially troubled Preston.

"These are necessary," said Linda George, a spokeswoman for Yellow Freight. "We have a company that is losing $2 or $3 million a month. The hemorrhaging has to be stopped."

Ms. George characterized the layoffs as "very reasonable and even minimal," considering Preston's losses of $14.6 million last year.

Preston has nearly 1,000 workers in Maryland, with its largest terminal in Glen Burnie. Overall, the layoffs affected about 2.5 percent of Preston's work force, Ms. George said, but that included 70 of the 360 employees at the headquarters.

"With the layoffs at Campbell, it's not a good time on the Shore to be looking for a job," said Margaret Myers, president of the Caroline County Commissioners. "This is not going to be easy." In November, Preston, one of Maryland's largest and oldest publicly traded companies, agreed to be bought by Yellow Freight for $24 million in cash and the assumption of sizable debt.

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