AUGUSTA – Pretty grim.

That’s what Rusty Coston said when asked about his future job prospects after a meeting Saturday morning at the Augusta Civic Center with state and union officials. Coston said he worked for 2½ years in a warehouse for Gardiner-based Associated Grocers of Maine, which recently was put in receivership because of failure to pay bank debts.

“We weren’t expecting everything that happened,” he said. “We were kept in the dark until the day they told us. I think they could have given us a little more advanced notice.”

About 70 workers, mostly members of the Teamsters Union Local 340, listened as they were told the latest information about the company’s status and instructed how to apply for unemployment benefits.

Daniel Walsh, the Teamsters business agent, distributed and read a statement sent to the union president by the court-appointed receiver on Friday.

“As a result of financial exigencies, AGME is terminating its operations and liquidating its affairs,” wrote James Ebbert. “The company’s facility . . . will close and all or substantially all employees of the company (about 141 employees) will be terminated from further employment.”

The action is intended to be permanent, Ebbert wrote, and the company has notified its employees. Operations are expected to wind down rapidly, and all workers are expected to be let go by May 20; but many on Saturday said they had not been told directly that they had been laid off.

“If they are going to lay us all off, they should have to tell us,” one man said during the nearly two-hour meeting.

“I don’t know what to say. Here we are; we’ll get through this,” Walsh said.

He said going into contract negotiations, the union was aware things were “tight” but said AGME never revealed just how dire the situation was. The current union contract expired Saturday.

A red flag first was raised when the company missed a pension payment. Then the company told union negotiators they needed six months to get things together, Walsh said.

“We said, ‘We’ll give you the time you need; but if you are saying you can’t make certain payments, you need to prove it to us,’ ” he said.

“They were reluctant to show their books. They said they didn’t want word getting out on the street. They didn’t want their creditors finding out, or things would get hectic or crazy real quick.”

AGME agreed to show Walsh the books after he signed a confidentiality agreement.