By Gabriel Roshan
On September 17, Dollar Tree, the new owner of Family Dollar, decided to shut down the Charlotte-based headquarters and distribution center.
Dollar Tree has already announced that they will be eliminating 200 positions. The distribution center employed 1,100 workers. The fate of the other 900 workers is in the hands of Dollar Tree.
For the steep price of $9.1 billion in 2016, Dollar Tree was able to buy out the local business Family Dollar to near unanimous approval from their leadership and shareholders. The now-parent company has elected to consolidate by moving the headquarters up to Chesapeake, Virginia, three hours away from Charlotte.
Earlier this week, Dollar Tree’s Vice President of Investor Relations, Randy Guiler, in typical corporate snake-like language stated that “[n]one of the jobs will go away in 2018 and all of those folks can apply for positions in Chesapeake…we will help those who do not want to relocate to Chesapeake find other positions.”
Guiler’s statement provides no real solution to the workers whose jobs and lives are now on the line. All workers can expect is to keep their jobs for the rest of 2018, after that everything is up in the air.
Since the merger was completed, Dollar Tree has already cut 370 positions, claiming no need for further redundancies in positions from Family Dollar. If the worst-case scenario comes true, almost 1,300 jobs will be lost in a matter of 2 years in Charlotte.
After a year of high stakes proposals and agreements, Dollar Tree narrowly won out over Dollar General in their battle for Family Dollar. Shareholders cite it would have been easier to convince legislators that this merger is not the formation of a monopoly under anti-trust regulation since Dollar Tree and Family Dollar have different price standards.
Dollar Tree does not charge their customers anything over $1 per item, whereas both Dollar General and Family Dollar attempt to keep their prices below $10.
However, the real differences between Dollar General and Family Dollar lie in their customer base. Dollar General focuses on rural areas where the retail competition is low, and the majority of residents are white. Whereas Family Dollar came to prominence in Charlotte when instead of building their store inside malls they set up directly in working class neighborhoods. Their patrons in Charlotte tend to be oppressed nations proletarians, mainly Black workers.
In a time where the proletariat has not recovered from capitalism-imperialism’s last major crisis in 2008, these exploiters of poverty thrived over the past decade. An estimated growth of 12,000-dollar stores from the year 2008 to 2017 occurred.
Dollar General has grown tremendously since 2008, becoming the largest dollar store, before this merger, in the country. This can be attributed to the fact that Family Dollar primarily caters to the proletariat of the Black nation. In contrast, Dollar General is mainly based in areas of majority white residents.
This impending catastrophe for the working class of Charlotte was directly instigated by the former owners of Family Dollar, the heirs to the “altruistic” Levine family.
Leon Levine first opened Family Dollar in 1959 on the 1500 Block of Central avenue.
Levine and his family have left an indelible impact on Charlotte’s NGO sector. Their many projects range from museums’, special art galleries on college campuses, grants to non-profits, and a major university scholarship to the biggest of them all, The Levine’s Children Research hospital.
In 1980, Levine founded the Levine Foundation to build up this Corporate-NGO empire. According to the foundation website, their mission is “to improve the human condition by creating permanent, measurable and life-changing impact throughout the Carolinas.” The website also states that the foundation is built upon “Jewish Values,” which include the funding of Israeli nonprofits.
It’s clear that their mission to improve the “human condition” is not for Carolina workers or Palestinians. Levine and his kin have routinely spent millions a year in “philanthropy” and helping those in need, but by selling Family Dollar they have sold out their very own employees for the benefit of shareholders, not the workers.
The fact that only 200 jobs will be cut at first does not negate that under capitalism profit comes before the people. On paper, Leon Levine and his family are for the people, but that’s just on paper. In reality, he is just another exploiter like the rest of the capitalist class.
According to the Dollar Tree statement regarding the merger, they are consolidating their new company in order to streamline the process of shipping and receiving products. With a fake concern for consumers, Dollar Tree has boldly imposed corporate efficiency at the expense of their employee’s livelihoods.
The masses of Charlotte must be ruthlessly critical of all board room deals that slick-talking corporate heads and their shareholders have behind closed doors. Revolution, mass resistance and solidarity are the only hope for workers under capitalism.
Unfortunately, this decision was met with little to no resistance from the workers’ themselves, but it’s still early on. Revolutionaries and workers must not let this go unchallenged. When the masses rise, all is possible, and these exploiters can be stopped once and for all.