By Warren Pepicelli, manager of the New England Joint Board
ON THE ANNOUNCED CLOSING OF A.J. WRIGHT
On behalf of our 821 New England Joint Board members employed at the A.J. Wright distribution center in Fall River, Massachusetts, whose jobs will be eliminated – and thinking as well of the thousands of A.J. Wright retail and distribution employs around the country who are receiving the devastating news in the midst of the holiday season — I want to express my anger and the anger of our Joint Board and of UNITE HERE at a system that considers only the interests of stockholders seeking maximum profit, even as the needs of American workers and consumers are dealt with after the fact, as a kind of collateral damage.
The union has been meeting all day with our members in the Fall River area – including hundreds of workers commuting to this facility from Rhode Island, as well as from Southeastern Massachusetts – and assuring them of our commitment to negotiate the best possible terms for their futures that can be obtained in this tragic situation.
Our country is in the third year of a terrible economic crisis, with Congress now seeking to extend a safety net for millions of unemployed workers – and this situation only adds to that burden. The area where the A.J. Wright distribution center is located is one of the more economically depressed areas of the state. No one could allege any fault on behalf of the company’s hard-working employees in this disaster. And A.J. Wright customers look to this brand for affordable goods. But corporate greed and the demand for excess profit are mandated by stockholders – to the extent that corporate profits are expected to improve as a consequence of our members’ redundancy. We take note of TJX Corporation’s expectation of finding jobs in its other businesses for some – though very far from all – of its retail employees, but have no positive news at this point to report for our members.
We expect to have more to say about this situation in the coming days and weeks. For now, we can only express our shock and anger at this new blow to America’s workforce, and our determination to stand up for the rights and interests of the hard-working people who are the real strength of our country.
We call on all working people and all Americans to stand with them as well.