Laid Off AG Workers Looking To Move On 

Two days after a Gardiner business was foreclosed on, officials from the Department of Labor organized an informational session to help those left without jobs.More than one hundred people lost their jobs Wednesday after Associated Grocers in Gardiner went out of business. Some of them were at the Augusta Armory Friday to figure out their next move. Jeff Bellefleur spen the past 15 years at AG as a shop steward and a truck driver. “It’s just a shame that this is happening,” he said on Friday, “there’s a lot of good people looking for jobs now. All we can do now is move on.” Officials from the Department of Labor’s rapid response team organized the session to help workers with things like filing for unemployment and figuring out their health insurance options.Max Walton was a truck driver at Associated Grocers and said his last day started the same as any other day. He says Wednesday, after leaving with his normal load, he was called back. When he returned to AG, he noticed law enforcement on the property and knew something was wrong. “So basically when I drove the truck around, I saw one of the management,” Walton recalls. “I asked management what happened. He said well I’m really not at liberty to say. I said well you might as well say it. Something is not right. He said well the bank took possession.” The walton’s have three children at home. Being kept in the dark by ag angered his wife Paula. She thinks the company should have told the workers what was going on. “Just the fact that it hurts the family,” she said. “It plays on your children at that point. You just want to let them know that when you were messing around with the books and not doing the job managing that business properly. It’s not just affecting your job it’s affecting everyone’s job and their families.”Reality is now setting in for the Waltons and the rest of the workers who are doing their best to keep their spirits up. “Well right now, as soon as I found out, I told my wife this is a problem we need to try to find a solution,” Walton said. “And right now the solution is going out to find work.”The Department of Labor will have one more informational session for folks who lost their jobs at AG. That will be held at the American Legion Hall in Gardiner next Thursday at 10:00 a.m.