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Open Letter To Wal-Mart Help Us Get Our Jobs Back

A group of elected officials and citizens in Marion County, S.C., recently sent an open letter to Wal-Mart asking the company to "[b]ecome our partner in prosperity and help us get our jobs back." The group seeks to enlist the Bentonville, Ark.-based big box retailers support in helping the community reopen a knitwear plant in Mullins, S.C., that closed in 2002, eliminating 600 jobs. Marion County currently has an unemployment rate of 17 percent.

"This is a seriously poor place, and its people really need to work to put food on the table," said Marguerite Willis, an attorney in nearby Florence, S.C., who organized the effort. She said Florence the commercial center of the Pee Dee region in northeastern South Carolina also is affected by the high unemployment because these folks don't have money to shop.

The letter, accompanied by a petition containing more than 4,000 signatures, states that if Wal-Mart would agree to purchase the shirts at a fair price, the plant could reopen to produce T-shirts under the ProsperiTEES name.

"[E]ven if you had to charge a little extra, does it really matter? Our products would be high-quality and made in the USA," the letter states. "We think most Americans would agree that paying a little extra for a ProsperiTEE is worth it."

The plant, owned by the City of Mullins, was leased formerly by Anvil Knitwear. Mullins Mayor Wayne George said Anvil is interested in returning to operate the plant.

George said Wal-Mart has agreed to meet with campaign representatives in late July to listen to the proposal. The meeting will include Wal-Mart merchandising managers.

July 2004