Bristol Compressors to Cut Another 250 Jobs

by Lewis Loflin

Update, I told you so. It has now been announced that Washington County Virginia will forgo $650,000 in taxes Bristol Compressors should be paying, but claims it shouldn't. The County is saying it will cost too much to enforce so they happen to drop the effort right after Board Chairperson Dulcie Mumpower claimed aid was on the way. Make that $2.65 million they have paid this company so they could layoff over 2000 workers. Note all of this was conducted in back rooms aka 'closed session'.

To quote the press:

County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously ... to pay $650,000 to settle lawsuit with a former owner of Bristol Compressors, BC Liquidations Inc. The company had filed and potential lawsuits totaling more than $1.5 million, claiming it paid too much in taxes in the mid-2000s. Initially rejected by county officials, the claim was taken to the circuit court. County Attorney Lucy Philips said the settlement would save the county from the cost of litigation...

What about the damned employment agreements they defaulted on?

Right on the heels of almost 250 jobs being cut at Exide in Bristol, Tennessee comes more bad news from Bristol Compressors. They plan on dumping another 250 workers bringing their total to over 2000 in the last 10 years. They originally defaulted on a $1 million incentive package Washington County refused to enforce, then was handed another $1 million corporate welfare package. Now we lose another 250 full-time jobs right at Christmas. The company blames this on a "sluggish economy."

Washington County officials were quick to get on television and promise "assistance" to Bristol Compressors. Let me guess, another $1 million? While stabbing their workers in the back and after $2 million in taxpayer cash and likely millions more in other backdoor subsidies business enjoys here, CEO John Wadsworth says,

"We have been part of this community for a long time and we are taking the necessary steps to remain competitive through significant changes to our cost structure. Bristol Compressors has a reputation for providing high-quality products and services to its customers, which is a direct reflection of the quality of our employee base. We believe we have the best workforce in the industry and we will continue to be a company where all employees are focused on our customers."

In February 2009 Bristol Compressors joined the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing Inc. (SVAM) and was awarded a check for over $45,000 - reimbursement for workforce training completed by 194 of its employees. After all of this more bad news and it just keeps coming in 2011. To quote the Kingsport Times-News December 06, 2011:

Tuesday's announcement is the latest in a string of bad news for the Twin Cities. In early November, Exide in Bristol, Tenn., announced it would close about half of its operations here and consolidate the work at other manufacturing plants in the United States. Some 233 Exide employees are expected to be impacted in the next 12 to 18 months. In addition, Exide is considering moving other operations from Bristol, which could impact another 236 Exide employees.

Earlier this year, Brightpoint Inc. announced it would close its Touchstone Wireless business in Bristol, Tenn., impacting 357 full-time employees and 256 temporary workers here. The layoffs were expected to be completed in September.

In addition, Pfizer announced it would cut jobs in Bristol after it acquired King Pharmaceuticals. The drug manufacturer cut nearly 120 commercial and support jobs in Bristol and announced plans to cease manufacturing operations here by 2014, eliminating another 130 jobs. It also plans to close its logistics center in Bristol by next year, impacting nearly 20 people.

The problem continues to be the region is hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs while local government subsidizes $8 an hour call centers and engages in crony capitalism worked-out in back rooms. These deals replace only a fraction of the lost jobs at obscene financial costs to the community and tax payers. It's time to sever business and government and end crony capitalism.