Southwest Virginia Population decline 2010-2018.

Exide Dumps Bristol Workers after Receiving $34 million in Stimulus Funds

by Lewis Loflin

Update: Exide to Rehire 40 Bristol Workers. Then backs out.

Exide Corporation plans to rehire 40 workers in Bristol Tennessee. The original plant opened in 1994 and operated until 2013 once employing 500 to 600 workers. Like Bristol Compressors this company has a notorious and abusive habit of hire and fire labor abuse.

To make matters worse, Exide received $35 million in stimulus money before closing the Bristol facility. As usual this government handout produced nothing.

The company has also been snarled up with environmental regulations. Press reports claim that Exide has developed a "robust" environmental, health, and safety standards. We shall see. Local residents living near the old plant are concerned once again about toxic lead and other pollutants. Ref. BHC March 21, 2017.

Update: the plan has been dropped with no explanation.

In 2009 Exide announced the firing 567 workers at Bristol battery plant or 70 percent of its workforce. Opened in 1994, Exide's Bristol plant is a manufacturing and distribution center of lead-acid batteries used in the automotive, marine and specialty industries. They had 817 employees at the time. They did some rehires that were proclaimed "new jobs."

November 9, 2011 Exide announced they will cut another 233 jobs in Bristol. The fate of another 236 workers will be known in the next 90 days. Merry Christmas.

They have been showered with millions in corporate welfare since moving to Bristol in 1994. That included tax giveaways and upgraded water and electrical services. The local press claims, "Federal stimulus money is currently helping fund a new product line Exide still plans to open in Bristol." Won't happen. As others have pointed out with this level of government handouts, when does capitalism end and crony capitalism begin?

Update June 2013:

Now they have announced another layoff on May 30, 2013 dumping another 68 workers. These are permanent layoffs. Now it has been revealed that Exide has filed for Chapter 11 Protection. According to the Wall Street Journal June 10, 2013. This is the second Chapter 11 filing for the company which restructured in 2004. Why was a company like this given $34 million in Federal stimulus funds?

This filing only effects US operations and not its operations in 80 other countries. They claim stiff competition, high production costs, and " Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s decision to designate Johnson Controls as its sole supplier of transportation batteries resulted in a loss of about $160 million in annual revenue." Exide has assets of about $1.9 billion and debts of $1.1 billion.

In addition the WS Journal reports the company suspended operations at a California lead processing facility due to environmental problems.

I went to and did a search on Exide. Here is a sample of the waste involved with just this company alone.

Award #9102007
Amount: $810,904
Date: 01/07/2010
Jobs reported: 1.04
Cost per job: $810,000


ACCELERATING THE ELECTRIFICATION OF US DRIVE TRAINS: READY AND AFFORDABLE TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS FOR DOMESTICALLY MANUFACTURED ADVANCED BATTERIES - This project is to expand Exide Technologies advanced battery manufacturing capacities in our Columbus, Georgia and Bristol, Tennessee facilities.

Award Number: DE-EE0002618
Total Award Amount $34,294,772
Award Date: 12/23/2009
Jobs Reported: 6.00 in Milton GA, none in Bristol
Cost per job: $5.67 million

Where is the public on this?

See Three Decades of Job Losses in Southwest Virginia

Note that minimum wage in 1970 was $1.60 adjusted for inflation is $10.46 in 2018. That is what I call adjusted minimum wage. Assuming one even gets 40 per week that's for 52 weeks that equals $21,756. Per capita income in Bristol Virginia 2018 is $21,589. It is similar to this across the whole region.

Third world? Some have called us the China of America minus jobs.

Just a few of hundreds of plant closings see Smyth County the China of America loses jobs.

Tri-Cities labor market 2007-2016.

Update September 3, 2019. Based on data from Dr. Steb Hipple economist at East Tennessee State University (retired), his data goes to the 3rd. quarter of 2016. The level of job losses is Tri-Cities is staggering, worse than what even I thought.

(The Tri-Cities Consolidated Statistical Area is composed of the Kingsport/Bristol MSA and the Johnson City MSA.).

The Bristol TN-VA, Kingsport, and Johnson City Urbanized Area Labor Market lost thousands of jobs shrinking the labor force that shrank the unemployment rates. The above table shows a decline of labor force by almost 18,000. But it gets worse.

Includes: Johnson City, TN, Carter County, Unicoi County, Washington County.
All workers BLS:
2016 78,140 workers, Median hourly wage $14.47, Annual $40,140
2018 77,020 workers, Median hourly wage $15.38, Annual $42,740
Labor force fell 1120 jobs in 2 years.

Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA MSA includes: Bristol city, VA, Hawkins County, TN, Scott County, VA, Sullivan County, TN, Washington County, VA.

All workers BLS:
2016: 118,470, Median hourly wage $15.27, Annual $41,050
2018: 116,150, Median hourly wage $16.50, Annual $43,480
Labor force fell 2,320 in in 2 years.

That's not the worst of it still. For Tri-Cities the total labor force is 193,170. The labor force shrank by 3,440 jobs in 2 years - during a so-called boom. In 2009 the labor force was 247,965, minus 193,170 equals a staggering loss of 54,795 less people are working in 2019 than in 2009!.

I can't believe this myself. Anyone working here knows it is bad. That could be explained by high poverty and disability rates, and large numbers of retirees leaving the labor force. I don't know because a lot of data is hidden from the public. But makes sense when we look at the national labor force declines.