Job Losses Rock Bristol Virginia-Tennessee Region April 2009

compiled by Lewis Loflin

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.

General Shale Brick of Johnson City announced that they will be laying off 75 people. The production line will shut down. They make brick, block, etc. The company website is

AGC to lay off 100 at Kingsport Blue Ridge Plant

KINGSPORT - AGC Flat Glass North America will temporarily lay off 100 employees at its Blue Ridge Plant in Kingsport, which manufactures pattern glass for the solar industry, serves much of the export market. The affected employees are expected to receive pink slips in the next seven to 10 days...Following the layoff, the Blue Ridge Plant will employ about 280 people. AGC also announced it will permanently close its West Virginia factory due to declining demand...

Last spring, the company shut down one of two production lines at the facility and laid off about 250 people. Earlier this year, AGC laid off more than 30 employees at the Church Hill plant. AGC employs about 250 at the Greenland (Hawkins County Tennessee) plant. The company also operates a coating facility in Abingdon, employing 80 people there. Extract Times-News 10 Jan 2009

King Pharmaceuticals of Bristol, TN will fire 72 more people, reducing its workforce to 430. This was due to loses in court over the expiration of patents for their top-selling drug Skelaxin, a muscle relaxant. Their company website is at Update February 26, 2009: King Pharmaceuticals reports $548 million 4th quarter loss.

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