Amoroso lays off Philly drivers; will bakery shut?

Amoroso's, the Philadelphia bread bakery, has given the 77 drivers at its Southwest Philadelphia bakery 60-day layoff notice, and is advertising for independent operators to buy bread distribution routes for the rolls the family-owned company and its affiliates bake and ship across the region.

"I can't believe he's doing this. These guys made Len Amoroso a millionaire. A lot of them are their 50s. They only have a few more years to work," Bob Ryder, president of Teamsters Local 463, who represents the current drivers, told me.

Ryder says he's concerned Amoroso may close the bakery at 55th and Baltimore, displacing around 170 bakery workers, and shift production to a New Jersey state-subsidized plant that Amoroso's boss Len Amoroso co-owns in Vineland, with his cousin Daniel Amoroso and the Mulloy family of Atlantic City.

Len Amoroso wasn't available at his office for comment. A group of Amoroso employees are meeting this afternoon with company management at the Hilton Hotel on City Line Ave., according to hotel staff. Teamsters opposed to Amoroso's new strategy are also present, according to Ryder.

Len Amoroso "is saying, 'Buy your routes or we'll sell them to someone else," Ryder told me. "He's financing everything. We're trying to get an injunction to stop them from bargaining directly" with the drivers.

The move resembles a shift made by Tasty Baking Co. more than a decade ago. Tasty last week agreed to sell its South Philly and Oxford plants and snack brands to Georgia-based Flowers Foods for $34 million plus repayment of its $100 million-plus debt.

The Vineland bakery was built in the early 2000s with $14 million in New Jersey state financing, plus tax breaks, and counts Wawa among its customers.