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2002-05-13
Laurens, S.C. Wal-Mart Lays Off 250 Workers At Distribution Center

Word has reached us that Wal-Mart announced that it was laying off 250 "associates" at its Laurens, South Carolina distribution center. The layoffs took place in April. Yet the company is continuing its plans to move forward with another distribution center about 90 miles away in Shelby. Wal-Mart, which rarely talks about such down-sizing, said the Laurens center would be converted to just handling clothing, and they would try to filnd a place for the workers losing their jobs. "We like to keep our associates and we offer them opportunities to remain Wal-Mart associates because they're trained. We've offered opportunities to transfer to other distribution centers and we offer relocation assistance," said company spokesman Tom Williams. The Shelby center, which is slated to open in September is 1.2-million-square-feet and according to Wal-Mart will employ nearly 600 people (not counting other warehouse jobs at competitors, which will be lost.) As with any number of other Wal-Mart distribution centers, taxpayer subsidies to the world's richest retailer made the distribution center possible. Cleveland County, S.C. gave Wal-Mart roughly $175,000 over the next five years to build their center in Shelby. But even more goodies were given away. The city of Shelby and the county purchased 58 acres to give Wal-Mart and agreed to extend water, sewer and natural gas lines to the business. The cost of the land purchase will be $240,000 and extending utility lines will cost the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners up to $257,500.

What you can do: Wal-Mart doesn't like to talk about its down-sizing, and no explanation was given for the reduction in staff. In the meantime, Shelby becomes just one more town that shovels $672,000 in tax dollars to support Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart can't build distribution centers without getting corporate welfare and free land, maybe they shouldn't be building distribution centers. What do these local officials tell smaller competitors about why tax dollars are being used to destroy them? In Shelby, all they can think about is the construction jobs to build the new center, and not what it will do to other area businesses that will be eclipsed by Wal-Mart's taxpayer supported distribution center. The "free market" means trying to get whatever the market will bear, for free.










 
 
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