Page 22


BOWIE COUNTY PART 2 Pg. 12 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES DECEMBER 23, 1988 $1.50 Leveraged Lives BY BILL ADLER Mesquite AT A FEW MINUTES past six on the warm and cloudy morning of Thursday, May 15, 1986, William L. Mayfield, Jr., reported to his maintenance job at Safeway’s milk plant in Garland, a suburb northeast of Dallas. Mayfield, 46, a sad-eyed man with large hands, a deep voice, and an unhurried way of talking, had worked the same job for 13 years. After a light breakfast and a cup of coffee with his co-workers. Mayfield punched the clock precisely at 7 a.m. He headed for his locker, from which he retrieved his tool box and soon began his rounds of the plant, ensuring the machinery was well oiled and greased and running smoothly. At 8:30 central daylight time, as Bill Mayfield checked that the fillers were pumping the milk properly into the gallon jugs, the New York Stock Exchange opened for trading. At the Dallas-area stores, meanwhile, Safeway shoppers checked the week’s specials on Jonny Cat cat litter \(a rooms \(a three-ounce jar of pieces and stems \(a 24-count package of assorted forks or year-old investor named Robert Haft, sensing an unadvertised bargain of another sort, telephoned his stockbroker in New York and told him to immediately begin buying huge blocks of shares of Safeway stock. Haft’s call to his broker, and the subsequent act of transferring paper certificates of stock from one Wall Street brokerage house -to another was to be the beginning of a battle for control of the world’s largest grocery chain and the beginning of the end of Bill Mayfield’s working life. Every hostile corporate takeover has certain flesh and blood consequences that can be measured in human damage, done in the pursuit of short-term profits and in the name of corporate efficiency. As companies battle for survival on Wall Street, their workers people like Bill Mayfield end up fighting for survival, too. Some of Safeway’s 8,800 employees in North Texas who lost their jobs were able to pick themselves up and put their lives back together. Some never really got over the sudden loss of their livelihood. What happened to Safeway employees has happened to hundreds of thousands of American workers in the last decade who have had a sudden wrenching encounter with the takeover boom. But what happened to a few Safeway workers in Texas was worse. Continued on page 6 LOUIS DeLUCA, DALLAS TIMES HERALD Laid-off Safeway workers burn uniforms in Dallas, April 23, 1987