A dark day for Cabarrus County.

It's a dark day for the economy here in Cabarrus County.

The parent of the Philip Morris cigarette companies (Altria) said Tuesday it will close a Concord manufacturing plant that employs 2,500 people off U.S. 29 as it moves cigarette production for non-U.S. markets to Europe.

Philip Morris contributes an estimated $200 million to the N.C. economy each year through its payroll and benefits in Cabarrus County.
Besides the huge loss in jobs I'm guessing this will also mean a big blow to the County budget since the Phillip Morris plant brought in a huge amount of taxes.

The company said it expects cost savings of about $335 million by 2011.
Louis C. Camilleri has been CEO of Altria Group for 5 years and makes $37 million a year. He ranks #32 on this years list of most highly compensated executives.
I'm pretty sure he won't sleep any worse tonight.

No job is safe anymore and that is exactly how big business likes it. They want that added pressure to drive wages down and have us depend on cheap imports made with slave and child labor. They value off shoring since it helps lower the bottom line. Shareholders support it since it increase the value of their portfolios. Altria shares rose 50 cents to $69.25 in premarket trading.

Meanwhile, every county in our area is outbidding each other with incentives to attract the few businesses that still bring in a few jobs. And after the incentives run out they can start looking for another place where they get even bigger incentives. I'm not totally against offering business incentives but right now there doesn't seem to be and end to how far counties are willing to outbid each other. I'm hoping we can put a national cap on how high incentives can go and level the playing field that way.

At the same time we have the guy that's supposed to represent us, republican congressman Robin Hayes, stand idly by and vote for one free trade agreement after another (nafta, cafta, ...) to make it easier for companies to send our jobs elsewhere.
Fortunately, he's the one guy the people of Cabarrus County themselves will outsource in 2008 and bring in a real representative instead.

Update 6 pm:
North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes is calling today's announcement that AltriaGroup is closing its Concord plant "a punch in the stomach."

Hayes issued a statement saying the tobacco industry has been under attack for years from groups that try to bankrupt it in court and governments that try to hit it with higher excise taxes. He says interest groups who have led the fight against tobacco never talk about the workers who make their living in the industry.

Apparently Mr. Hayes can't read.
He's trying to blame anti-smoking groups in the US for the closing of this plant. Too bad the statement from Altria says that they want to close the plant to move cigarette production for non-U.S. markets to Europe. The cigarettes they make there aren't meant for US consumption. So nice try dumb ass.
Furthermore, Last year, Philip Morris USA alone made $4.6 billion in profits. Not exactly bankrupt now is it?
Maybe Mr. Hayes might be trying to come up with an excuse so he can hide the fact that he has consistently voted for Free(read shipping off jobs) trade agreements?

cross posted from lefton49.com


One of my least favorite bumper stickers:

"Tobacco money pays my bills". You don't see many of those any more. I wonder if Louis C. Camilleri has one on his car.

I hate to see anybody lose their job like this. It's all part of corporate America's race to the bottom line, cutting whatever or whoever they have to, no matter the consequences.

DCCC just sent this to every in-box between here and Maryland

For Immediate Release, June 26, 2007

Robin Hayes and Family Profit From Local Plant Closure

Representative Robin Hayes and his family saw their Altria stock spike today as Altria announced it was closing its Philip Morris plant in Concord, N.C. to benefit its stockholders. This plant closure will lay off nearly 2,500 of Hayes’ constituents.

“Robin Hayes and his family made between $32,000 and $141,000 in a single day off of his constituents’ misfortune,” said Kyra Jennings, Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Whether he’s supporting CAFTA or personally profiting from local plant closures, Robin Hayes is out of touch with the people he represents.”

# # #

"I'm sure if you asked Rep. Hayes he's 'flat-out, completely, horizontally opposed' to Altria closing, just like he was CAFTA. Too bad he made money on both."

Good move.

Punch back hard, every time.

Glad DCCC is on that.

I found Flipper's personal financial disclosure on Open Secrets.org yesterday and saw he holds between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in Altria Group stock.

Altria openly admits the reason for closing the Cabarrus plant is to increase earnings for shareholders...and Hayes is reaping the rewards of that decision.

I think that "punch in the stomach" he felt was from the extra weight on his money belt.

Larry Kissell is MY Congressman

2500 workers...

...$200 million payroll works out to more or less $80,000 each.

who are these workers?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Wow, what a loss. That's very sad.

I've read that when people get laid off they rarely get back to the economic level they had achieved. Can't find the source, tho. But it's not hard to believe.
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,

I don't know what types of jobs were lost

Are any high tech enough to get them through the door at the new Biotech hub? I'm not being snide. I really don't know.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

the irony...

...that these non-geek $30/hour jobs are union jobs in a difficult state to organize workers almost makes it's own story.

where are the other private-sector union jobs in nc, by the way?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

too bad there was no REPLACEMENT plan?

What if they had pursued another product to replace tobacco?

You would think years ago when they noticed that tobacco profits were beginning to wane, that they would look for a new product and gradually phase out tobacco.
Gee, I don't know.. something that could be planted, farmed and still provide work at the factories. How about soybeans or hemp?
The tobacco lobby is HUGE. So why didn't they make a play for hemp?

Well as long as Hayes, Burr and Dole come out all right.
You know they have to have made some "lobbying" plans for the future because they surely don't have a future in politcs (fingers crossed).

Tobacco companies got a bad name lying to the public about health risks.
The worst of it was the maketing campaigns directed at kids to be the next REPLACEMENT smokers. See they had a plan..

I don't think they are losing money

they're just not making enough GOBS of it.

But yes, why haven't people seen the writing on the wall for years now? We have lost the furniture industry, the tobacco industry, the textile industry.

Where are our leaders? echo... echo......echo............

No, they're not losing

No, they're not losing money. Altria is more than use tobacco, but their market here in the U.S. has declined (as we all well know) and what they manufacturing in Cabarrus relies on over-the-road transportation, rail and air, so they consolidate the middle to upper-middle management, etc., etc.

Interestingly enough, Springs (Lanscaster, SC) has just announced another layoff - OK, only 750, but still! - and Hanes has just announced it is cutting back it's workforce - 70 in the Winston-Salem area and 4,200 in South America. The question here is, is the 4,200 a total company reduction, or has the South American labor force gotten too expensive, or have they chopped down as much of the Brazilian as they can and now have to build a railroad where the Amazon used to be to transport raw materials?

As for Hayes (sorry loftT, tagging onto earlier post here), he pointed a finger at Kouri about Kouri's stock holdings. Mr. Hayes owns stock in the Berkshire Fund - a bunch of it - at $100,000 a share. Altria's decision will raise their bottom line, by some projected $500 million which is probably held in Berkshire. (I just wish I had bought one tiny share of it – Berkshire that is – when it was $10,000, it would be worth over a hundred grand by now).

To anyone who isn't among the mighty rich who contributed to Hayes’ campaign: You have been played for a fool.

I wonder

Can you make ethanol out of tobacco? Seems like a much better idea than using corn and driving up food prices in the process.

Not a biologist, but

Not a biologist, but guessing it doesn't have enough sugar in it?

they are working

On developing a method to create ethanol from items like wood pulp and tobacco would fall under that category.

Cool. I'm learning how much

Cool. I'm learning how much you can learn out here. Thanks for the info!