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2000-04-21
Jacksonville, FL. Dixie Loses Winn-Dixie

There's trouble in Dixieland, and southern states are the big losers in the latest grocery store casualty of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. This week Jacksonville, Florida-based Winn-Dixie supermarkets announced in a cost-cutting move the elimination of 11,000 jobs, which is roughly 8% of its 132,000 workforce. Winn-Dixie is reportedly the 6th. largest grocery chain in the U.S. with stores in 14 states and the Bahamas. Most of its holdings are in Dixieland (Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas). The workers who will lose their jobs are in 114 stores, out of a total 1,189 locations. The company is "retiring" 10 vice presidents -- but as the Associated Press notes: "Store workers will bear the brunt of the layoffs." In most stories about the massive layoffs, Wal-Mart is cited as a major reason for the Winn-Dixie losses. "The US supermarket industry has been consolidating in a bid by larger grocers to compete more effectively with each other as well as Wal-Mart Stores, which has moved aggressively into the food businerss at its massive store network in the U.S." says the AP. Reuters notes that Wal-Mart "became the No 5 U.S. seller of groceries during the 1990s by expanding mainly in Winn-Dixie's backyard in the Southern U.S." The layoffs are expected to occur in a Tampa, FL warehouse, detergent and bag factories in Jacksonville, and corporate offices in Florida, Georgia and Kentucky. An average store has 85 workers, the company said, and would not disclose a list of doomed stores, although laid off workers will reportedly get severance packages and accrued benefits.Earlier this year Winn-Dixie sold 74 stores to Kroger, the largest US. grocer. The shrinking of Winn-Dixie is supposed to save the company $400 million a year. 11,000 families were "trimmed" from the company, like so much fat from a steak.

What you can do: "Today's grocery business is probably the most competitive in our 75 year history," said the chairman of Winn-Dixie. The company said the workers losing their jobs would be notified as "expeditiously as possible and (stores) closed as expeditiously as possible." The "Lose-Dixie" story is just more writing on the WAL for those who bother to read it. Wal-Mart often comes to small towns saying "Wal-Mart brings in traffic and customers to the area" (as they did recently in Plymouth, NH), and local officials superfically believe the mantra. It's as if building more grocery stores in an area will make us hungrier. But what happened to the workers at Winn-Dixie is the reality. Often one chain's expansion is at the expense of another, so the new Wal-Mart supercenters in Dixie's backyard have resulted in 11,000 workers going home to tell their families that they are now out of a job. This is how Wal-Math really works. The Winn-Dixie/Lose-Jobs formula just proves the old Wal-Mart saying: "At Wal-Mart we make dust. Our competitors's eat dust" (Tom Coughlin). Look away, Dixieland, it's not a pretty picture. Winn loses, and so does Dixie.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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