DECATUR, Ill. (Oct. 10)—Layoffs have started at Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s Decatur radial tire plant, starting the countdown to the facility's final days in December. About 335 production workers were laid off Sept. 24, according to Roger Gates, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 713. All were retirement-eligible volunteers taking an "early out" option negotiated by the union and the company in plant closure negotiations, he said. A second wave of layoffs will take place Oct. 22, Gates said, affecting an additional 180-190 workers. More than 500 employees volunteered to leave the plant via the early option, he said. Employees staying until the closure will be paid through Dec. 27, although their last day in the plant will be Dec. 23, Gates said. The facility's current production work force is at about 850, nearly half of what is was a year ago.