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Job losses rock Bristol April 2009

April 2009 has brought a tidal wave of bad news to working people in Bristol Virginia/Tennessee.

WJHL TV in Bristol (April 16, 2009) has announced the Salvation Army in Bristol will be laying off workers. Five full-time and five part-time workers will be canned. Two full-time jobs will be reduced to part- time. the Salvation Army Store on State Street stays packed and provides a desperately needed service in low-wage Bristol. The AP is reporting the TN March Unemployment rate reached 9.6%.

Utility Trailer Manufacturing has fired 209 workers. They announced 90 would be canned from their Adkins facility in Smyth County Virginia on January 14 and then announced another 119 March 12, 2009 at their Glade Spring plant in Washington County (Glade Spring) Virginia. They manufacture truck trailers and claim to have no orders for their product. The Glade Spring plant will close May 15. We also have an unconfirmed report a glass company in Washington County canned 40 workers. I've called the employment commission and they claim they can't comment on it. What gives?

Modern Forge in Piney Flats, Tennessee (outside Bristol) on March 8, 2009 announced they canned 33 workers. Company officials claim these are good people, but the downturn in the auto industry has hit them too.

April 9, 2009 Bristol Metals announced that it will can 37 workers or 13% of their workforce. They manufacture stainless steel pipe and are located in Bristol, Tennessee.

Exide Corporation in Bristol Tennessee (April 5, 2009) just canned 567 workers, most of its workforce. While local officials claimed shock, some workers I knew from there knew it was coming. To quote data from another source:

As per the reports, there may be around 570 job cuts by the company. There are about 810 employees of Exide at the Bristol Batteries plant or 70% of the job cuts at Bristol facility. The layoffs will be made from May 1, 2009 onwards. Facilities in Bristol will be affected. Higher-level managers are moving into the middle manager's jobs, a demotion. Many workers claim even seniority was ignored. The plant has been in Bristol since about 1994 so many people looking at retirement just lost out.

According to the Kingsport Times-News, Exide Company official Bruce Cole said Wednesday the layoffs are "indefinite," but they "hope for an improvement in the marketplace that may allow us to put people back to work at our Bristol facility." But that makes no sense because the company is looking to expand in India. To quote

Exide Technologies Announces Capacity Expansion at Tudor India Location ALPHARETTA, Ga., Dec 13, 2007 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Exide Technologies, (NASDAQ: XIDE,, a global leader in stored electrical-energy solutions, announced today plans for the capacity expansion at its transportation manufacturing facility in Gujarat, (Ahmedabad) India. The Company is investing in equipment upgrades, line expansions, infrastructure and utilities at its Tudor India Ltd. (TIL) location in its efforts to increase operational capacity from 600,000 batteries up to 1,000,000 batteries per year...

In the Virginia coal fields north of Tri-Cities the situation is also bad. The Virginia Mountaineer (April 2, 2009) reports Alpha Natural Resources based in Abingdon canned 24 workers in Buchanan County, Virginia. United Coal "slashed" 100 jobs in December while Virginia's largest coal mine CONSOL Energy No. 1 idled 500 workers in early March.

Virginia Business (October 13, 2007) claims Sykes (a low wage call center operator) will hire 400 workers in Buchanan County and was supposed to reopen a center in Kentucky they dumped in 2003. These announcements in the past have proven grossly inflated and pay nothing even close to a mining job. It's very expensive to live in that area and many people have fled that area for Tri-Cities.

In another note, property values in Tri-Cities and Bristol continue to rise due to an influx of retirees despite the dismal job market. More on that when I confirm the figures.

Tennessee Valley Authority President and CEO Tom Kilgore claims that 124 industrial plants in the TVA service area have slammed the doors since October 2008. That's a loss of 20,000 jobs and this troubles Mr. Kilgore. He claims, "When we sell less kilo-watt hours, every kilo-watt hour sale has a fixed cost recovery in it. To recover some of the depreciation, and some of out interest, and some of our taxes, so as we sell less, the pressure is there. We still have to pay our taxes, we still have to pay our interest, and we still have to account for our asset investment."

Also see Mass Shooting in Bristol, Tennessee Public Housing
Zero Tolerance Policies and African Americans in Tennessee Schools


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