Occupy Winston-Salem protests Reynolds American layoffs

Amanda Porter-Cox, Will Cox, Tina Campbell, Tom Grant and Kayla Porter-Cox (l-r) picketed Reynolds American's headquarters in downtown Winston-Salem today.

“This is the personification of corporate greed,” said Occupy Winston-Salem activist Will Cox as he stood in front of the Reynolds American headquarters this afternoon with a sign reading, “RJR workers got burned by big tobacco.” “Many times we’ll see in the media and lines fed by CEOs that profits are great and everybody benefits. But who gets hurt is the people that labored to create the profits that are treated as expendable.”

As the Winston-Salem Journal reported on Wednesday, the company confirmed that it has cut an undisclosed number of jobs at its Tobaccoville plant.

Protesters, numbering about a dozen, cried foul about the Winston-Salem-based corporation cutting jobs while reporting $304 million in profits for the fourth quarter of 2011.

“[The company says] there’s certain expenses we have and we need to be flexible in a changing market,” said Cox, who works in the healthcare industry. “The change they want to see is the arrow go up for profits. For us who are working, the change is our benefits are cut. Our hours are being cut. And sometimes our jobs are being cut.”

A spokesperson for Reynolds American was not immediately available for comment.

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