The closing of SWB New England, a distributor of kosher and ethnic foods, leaves as many as 160 employees without jobs.

Employees of SWB New England are jobless after the United Drive kosher and ethnic foods distributor suddenly closed its doors.   SWB bounced as many as 150 to 160 employees on Oct. 11, two days after the business warned of impending layoffs, according to a former employee who did not want his name used.   As a result, U.S. Sen. John Kerry's office is sending a letter asking the Department of Labor to investigate whether SWB violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.   Also known as WARN, the law would require SWB to furnish 60 days notice to employees if the business intended to close its plant or lay off 50 or more full-time employees.   Linnea Walsh, spokeswoman of the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, confirmed that SWB closed its doors without notifying a state Rapid Response dislocated worker unit.   A WARN notification would have triggered a workplace meeting with SWB and its employees where the rapid response team would present information to help them find new jobs.   Instead, John Murray, the Rapid Response coordinator for the southeast region, met with about 20 employees at a West Bridgewater restaurant to informally discuss unemployment insurance and career help after a former manager and some employees contacted the state.   The former employee said company officials threatened to make sure the nonunion employees would not collect unemployment unless they cooperated and that the sudden closing left many of them on the brink of bankruptcy and homelessness.   He said he attended the breakfast meeting with the Rapid Response team, which took place at Day Break Family Restaurant on West Center Street the day after SWB closed its doors.   "I'm going to make it through. Trust me. I just want it known how they (SWB New England) screwed us over," he said. "It's just a bunch of bull-crap. ... It's just not right. It's just not."   Walsh said the state is still trying to get a list of affected employees and could not confirm the number of layoffs.   She urged dislocated workers to turn to local career centers - such as CareerWorks, 34 School St., Brockton - for benefits and help.   "Our focus is reaching out to employees and getting then the help that they need," she said.   A company official identified as the interim adviser for closing SWB did not return phone calls seeking comment.   "Senators Kerry and Kennedy will be communicating with the company to ensure that all employees receive any benefits promised to them under federal law. The senators will pursue all avenues to make sure that if any federal laws were broken, all proper actions are taken to rectify the situation," said Brigid O'Rourke, a Kerry spokeswoman, in a prepared statement.   According to SWB's Web site, the wholesale distributor has been in business since 1922; is the top kosher distributor in New England; and distributes to supermarket chains, mom and pop stores and institutional facilities.   SWB leases 72,500 square feet of warehouse space and 7,500 square feet of office space at 1 United Drive from Liberty Cos. of Boston.   The distributor relocated there in October 2006 from a 45,060-square-foot facility at 35 Turnpike St, West Bridgewater, according to Liberty Cos.   Liberty Cos. CEO Moshin Amiji did not return a phone call.   Large roadside signs at Manley Street and United Drive and in front of 1 United Drive announced space for lease.   A phone call to a broker for listing agent Richard Barry Joyce & Partners was not returned.   Selectmen Chairman Eldon Moreira said he had not been notified of the closing, although a former employee called the town clerk's and selectmen's offices last week about the layoffs.   "I don't like seeing things like this happen. It's very, very hard now for people who lose their jobs. They need every cent, every dollar they can to pay bills," he said.   Selectman Matthew Albanese, who is a member of the town's Industrial Development Commission, said he was disturbed that the displaced employees didn't get much time or resources to search for new jobs.   "In this economy, there are many workers getting the short end of the stick," he said.   Moreira and Albanese said selectmen would also try to assist residents and nonresidents let go by SWB.   Enterprise