Where do I work now? Wal-Mart?
Where do I work now?

Bristol Wal-Mart Controversy

As accusations of "back room deals" and community anger fly in Bristol, city officials decide to sue citizens for opposing their despotic rule. All of this boils down to locating a Wal-Mart "super center" adjacent to two subdivisions and rezoning the property for business to accommodate them. Bristol goes even beyond "good old boy" politics to new lows. Citizens never had a chance.

Wal-Mart is often accused of destroying small business; it's also proven to use abusive labor tactics forcing workers to work off the clock and now gets nailed for using illegal workers. With Wal-Mart as the only growth industry in Bristol (outside poverty), who knows what will happen next. In the end Wal-Mart went in, and some city officials got voted out of office. The new ones went right back to business as usual.

Wal-Mart has become the goal of local economic development, so we need to consider what Wal-Mart is all about.

From a visitor to this website:

To whom it may concern:

Hello, my name is Robert Raybuck. I am a GM unloader for Walmart in North Fort Myers, FL #623. Lately, my crew members and I have been having a terrible time performing our regular duties. We have recently lost some coworkers, and another is out on maternity leave. We are too understaffed to finish our duties at a reasonable time. We are being forced to work long after our scheduled time and take extremely late lunches. In addition to being a very small crew, one man is 50 years old. He is a very hard working man, but together, we just can't seem to cut the mustard.

We have talked to management and suggested that they hire a few more workers to replace those that have gone, but, weeks go by, and still no help. This is effecting me on a personal level. I am a student at Florida Gulf Coast University. I cannot work over 10 hours a day, and still have time for sleep, homework, and family. I also have a seizure disorder from a severe brain injury, and basically, when I am completely exhausted, I have seizures. Yesterday, my scheduled hours were from 4pm to 1am. I finally left at 1:45. When I came to work today, I was reprimanded by the CO-manger named Pat for leaving too soon. I was told that if I cannot stay until the job was done, however long it takes, I could just push carts from now on.

My manager did this to intentionally belittle and embarrass me. I have no problem performing my duties, as I have shown for 2 years now. But we few cannot do the job of many men. I was not even given a choice in this change of job assignment. This made me feel like 2 years of my hard work was completely unappreciated. Almost every day for the past 2 weeks alone, I have worked an hour of overtime. For us, overtime is not a choice. It is mandatory. I do enjoy my job, and my coworkers. I enjoy being a GM unloader. I enjoy being part of a team.

I believe in the founding belief of "respect for he individual," but I feel that respect is not for us. Now, my fellow crew members will be yet another man short tomorrow. Who knows how late they will be expected to stay until the job is completed. We tried to lighten the situation tonight by making jokes about pitching a tent in sporting goods because it would be so late when we left, we might as well sleep there. In conclusion, I am asking for your assistance in getting my position back, and getting a little help for our department. We are understaffed, FORCED overtime, treated with disrespect, and now even belittled embarrassed, and demoted for showing physical weakness when we are pushed to the point of exhaustion.

Thank you for your time, Robert J. Raybuck

Wal-Mart controversy looks like repeat of Mendota Trail

April 12, 2002 Bristol Herald Courier

In regard to "Shouting Match" (Herald Courier, April 3), I ask that everybody across "borders" support Mr. Hamilton and his neighbors. This isn't about Wal-Mart or just Bristol Tennessee. This has been a repeat of the Mendota Trail hearings when the "Bristol Gang" ran over my neighbors. The hearing was a sham, and threats, shouting, lawyers, etc., were a waste of time also.

Like the Mendota Trail, this Wal-Mart scheme won't produce a single decent job and will displace more than it creates. The people affected have been written off. Mr. Gaines might be "sorry," but Kingsport officials stated it clearly: "Love it or leave it," (Times-News March 20). The Tri-Cities has been ranked among the worst places to earn a living and Bristol the worst of all. Joe Schlatter asked, "What has Alabama got that Bristol hasn't got?" They don't have a local government bent on keeping people "in their place."

That's why our industrial parks are full of spa distributors and the Industrial Development Board backs Wal-Mart. Let's put them on $6.50 an hour. We need a day-care center for Bristol's impoverished working people, not a library. When they tried to close Moore Street, people picketed, hung signs and voted one council member out of office. They got their street back. Bristol is a great community worth fighting for and I'm willing to fight, but not by myself. Peaceful, direct action is the only way.

Lewis Loflin Bristol, VA.

See Stop the Mendota Trail

Just what has Alabama got that Bristol hasn't got?

April 7, 2002 To the editor:

A page 6A article in your April 3 edition should be required reading by all our region's political leaders and all who aspire to political positions. In that article, "Hyundai Chooses Alabama" we learn that, in the past 10 years, Alabama has attracted four automobile manufacturing plants: Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, and now Hyundai.

Members of my family live in Alabama, several of them near the Honda SUV factory in Lincoln, Ala. (which had two traffic lights the last time I passed through there). They tell me that Honda is paying $11-$21 an hour; these wages are typical of those paid in the automobile plants.

Because Honda and Mercedes use Fiat-manufactured cylinder heads, Fiat is now opening a cylinder head and engine component manufacturing facility in a nearby town -- and they are paying $12-$21 an hour. Nearby industries have expanded because they won contracts to provide services and supplies to the manufacturers.

BMWs have been built in South Carolina for over a decade; Mississippi is building a Toyota truck plant; Nissan in central Tennessee is expanding; and, the IBM-Toshiba memory chip plant in Manassas has expanded employment -- again.

I moved to Bristol in January 1997. Candidates in every local election repeat the chant about bringing good jobs to Bristol and to our region. Yet, the best we can do is restaurant jobs around Exit 7 and a new Wal-Mart on the Volunteer Parkway, all of which bring nothing but more $6-$7 an hour jobs.

Robert Kennedy paraphrased George Bernard Shaw when he said: "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'why?' I dream things that never were and ask, 'why not?' "Perhaps at the next candidates' forum we need to cite the Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina examples and ask "Why not us?"

Oh, well -- at least we can beat them in football.

Joe Schlatter
Bristol, Tenn.

Non Profits and Local