Local 878 holds out hope that Goodyear will reconsider closure

Local 878 holds out hope that Goodyear will reconsider closure

Dale Carroll made it very clear Friday the local United Steel Workers union has met Goodyear’s challenge to make the local plant a competitive facility, and he is holding out hope that Goodyear will not shut down the plant by the end of the year.

Carroll is vice president of USW Local 878. He met with the media Friday at the union hall off East Main Street to talk about last week’s announcement by Goodyear it will be shutting down its Union City plant by the end of this year.

In very specific terms, Carroll outlined the progress that has been made by union workers since a two-part challenge by Goodyear. Those challenges, made by Goodyear during the 2009 contract negotiations, specified that in order for the plant to remain open the tire market would have to improve and operating costs would have to be lowered at the plant.

Carroll said plant workers have lowered operating costs.

“Our intention is to show Goodyear that it’s a big mistake (to shut down the plant),” Carroll said.

He went on to emphasize that union workers have focused on and succeeded in cutting down costs at the plant.

Carroll took issue with one of the statements issued through Goodyear spokesman Clint Smith last week that the local tire plant is a high cost facility. He explained that 80 percent of the plant’s tickets are high-value added tires that are more expensive to build than other consumer tires.

Carroll also took issue with the explanation that the workload from the local plant would be shifted to other North American plants. He claimed the work is being transferred overseas, to South America (Chile) and to China.

He described the mood among union members as “shock” and “disbelief” in reference to the plant closure news. Although the plant closure news was not totally unexpected, Carroll said union workers had been working very hard to make the plant more productive.

The loss of about 600 workers in the Phase I buyout was a blow to the plant’s workforce, but Carroll praised the work ethic of the plant’s associates. He described the 1,750 union members at the local plant as being “resilient.”

“Our (union) membership is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We’ve made great strides.”

He was also quick to praise the work of plant manager Terry Tennyson and his management team for helping to make the plant more productive.

Carroll did say after the 2009 work agreement, that local union members “had their backs against the wall.”

“I really don’t think we’re lagging behind,” he said, in reference to another statement made by Smith last week. “This plant is making corporate Goodyear money.”

Through all the gloom-and-doom mood that Goodyear’s news last week has generated, Carroll said there is still “a ray of hope” that the local plant will survive.

“If they call, we’d be willing to sit down and talk to them,” Carroll said. “There’s always a chance. We will leave no stone unturned.

“They (union workers) want to see this plant stay here.”

Carroll said local union officials have been talking with Congressman Stephen Fincher and his chief of staff.

Carroll closed out his brief news conference by reiterating it would be a “great mistake” for Goodyear to close the Union City plant and that it would be “devastating if it comes to pass.”

Editor’s note: Kevin Bowden is a staff reporter for the Union City Daily Messenger. He can be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

wcp 2/17/11

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