Closure Looms for Tyler's Goodyear Plant Amid Labor Stalemate - Tire Review Magazine

Closure Looms for Tyler’s Goodyear Plant Amid Labor Stalemate

(Akron/Tire Review – Associated Press) The possible closure of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s plant in Tyler, Texas, is among the sticking points in labor negotiations that could lead to a nationwide strike of some 14,000 employees this week, union officials said Tuesday.

The primary obstacle in negotiations in Cincinnati between Goodyear officials and the United Steelworkers union revolves around the company’s desire to close plants in Tyler and Gadsden, Ala., union representatives in both cities said. The strike could start as early as Thursday afternoon.

"If I had to describe things in one word, it would be ‘intense,’ but if I had to describe it in two words, it would be ‘very intense,’" said Harold Sweat, a union official in Tyler. "We are ready for something to happen."

The Tyler plant has slightly more than 1,000 workers, about 960 represented by the union. A three-year contract expired July 22, and workers have stayed on the job since then under a day-to-day extension that either side could terminate with three days’ notice. Union officials gave that notice Monday.

Jim Allen, chief negotiator for Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear, said notice from the union "simply creates a new deadline, which helps bring focus to the discussions as we work toward a new agreement."

A plant closure would be a severe blow to the economy of this East Texas town of 100,000 residents about 90 miles east of Dallas, said Tom Mullins, president of the Tyler Economic Development Council.

The Goodyear plant has a $948 million annual economic impact and generates $10.5 million in taxes for the city and nearby taxing districts, according to a study commissioned by the council. The plant’s annual payroll is about $70 million, Mullins said.

"Closing the plant would slow this economy down for a couple of years," Mullins said. "It would take a while to recover from all that lost economic activity."

Mullins said the city, his agency and the business community is working to generate economic development incentives for Goodyear so it can keep the plant open. So far, it has earmarked $1.5 million to help keep the plant open and is seeking state help as well, Mullins said.

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