Union officials assail shuttering of Tenn. Goodyear tire plant

Jan. 1, 2020
Goodyear has ceased production at its Union City, Tenn. tire factory, drawing the ire of the United Steel Workers (USW), which represents employees at the facility. The tire maker had earlier said the plant would be shuttered by the end of this year.
Goodyear has ceased production at its Union City, Tenn. tire factory, drawing the ire of the Uni ted Steel Workers (USW), which represents employees at the facility. The tire maker had earlier said the plant would be shuttered by the end of this year.

“When we announced our intention to close the plant, we expected the shutdown would occur by year-end,” says Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard J. Kramer. “Since then, the product transfers to the other Goodyear plants have been completed more quickly than expected. We are now able to meet the needs of our consumer tire customers without further production in Union City.”

Some 1,900 workers from West Tennessee and western Kentucky are impacted by the decision.

“We are very angered by the company’s announcement yesterday to close its Union City, Tenn. facility,” says USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “The harm being done over the years by our government’s inaction and manufacturers’ ongoing deindustrialization of the economy is relentless. Unfortunately, nothing we can say minimizes the impact this decision has on the lives of our members who work there, their families and the community. But we will continue to fight to help them in this tragic situation.”

“We did our best to keep this plant running, but the flood of subsidized foreign product in the marketplace and our stagnant domestic economy were too much to overcome,” notes USW International Vice President Tom Conway, who heads the union’s bargaining committee with Goodyear. “Our success in winning a 421 trade case in September 2009 probably provided the plant with two more years of life it otherwise might not have had.”

The USW case was filed in April 2009 under the Section 421 provision of the amended U.S. Trade Act of 1974, without the support of the tire companies, and “demonstrated that illegally subsidized foreign-made tires were putting American plants out of business and costing our members their jobs,” according to Conway.

 

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“The case demonstrated a 215 percent surge in passenger and light truck tire imports by volume and a 295 percent surge in value during 2004-08. The result was a loss of more than 8,100 domestic tire jobs by the end of 2009 from closed plants,” he says.

“We tried also to convince the company to put different product lines in the Union City facility,” says USW Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson, who directs the union’s Rubber and Plastics Industry Council, “but its response was that it did not need the capacity in the North American market.”

USW Local 878L members will continue to receive their wages for the duration of the 60-day WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) notice and will receive substantial benefits that were negotiated in advance of any possible shutdown.

“Our heart goes out to all of our members there as they embark on a transition, which is too common these days: Hard-working Americans, their families and communities suffering the loss of skilled production jobs because of our country’s inability to adequately enforce trade laws designed to maintain a level playing field in the global marketplace,” Conway says.

For more information, visit www.goodyear.com and www.usw.org.

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