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Retail giant Amazon told state officials Monday that it will shut down a sort center complex in Shakopee and lay off 680 employees at the facilities, effective March 31.
In a letter to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the company made it clear the closure would be permanent but did not explain its decision to the state.
A company spokesperson later told MPR News the workers affected will be offered opportunities at facilities elsewhere in the Twin Cities region and that this move was not about reducing headcounts.
“We’re always evaluating our network to make sure it fits our business needs and to improve the experience for our employees, customers, partners, and drivers,” said Steve Kelly, public relations manager. “As part of that effort, we may close older sites, enhance existing facilities, or open new sites, and we weigh a variety of factors when deciding where to develop future sites or maintain a presence.
This is not the larger facility many think of in Shakopee, known as MSP1. Amazon said the facility that is shutting is a rented space and the lease is expiring.
Amazon said it made the announcement per state and federal laws that require companies to give governments advance notice of large layoffs.
Workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center have held walkouts and demonstrations in recent years asking for improved working conditions and exploring unionization efforts. Kelly said the closure of the nearby sort center had nothing to do with those factors.
In the spring, the upstart Amazon Labor Union won the right to represent some 8,000 workers at the massive New York warehouse.