The roll call of plants in distress got a little bigger a few weeks ago. It's probably not the last one to enter this unenviable position, either.
The latest troubled site is Bridgestone/Firestone's huge Oklahoma City factory. The 37-year-old facility isn't competitive, BFS said, and will close at the end of the year unless negotiations with the United Steelworkers change the situation.
It's the same story given by tire makers dozens of times over the past few decades, and especially in recent times: Competition from lower-cost production abroad makes U.S. tire manufacturing unprofitable. The tire industry is a global business, and those who can't compete fall by the wayside.
Factories that produce high-margin tires, like high-performance tires, have a shot at survival. Those that make only passenger or light truck tires are in jeopardy.
At Oklahoma City, another 1,600 BFS employees, including 1,200 Steelworkers, face the prospect of losing their jobs. The USW-as at other locations, such as the Continental Tire plant in Charlotte, N.C.-now has the difficult task of swaying the opinion of a company that already is taking steps to close the factory. Indeed, BFS has downgraded its earnings projections in anticipation of the closing, a clear sign the firm already has made up its mind.
What can the Steelworkers do to save their plant? As in Charlotte, probably not much more than accepting whatever the company demands, which equates to a decline in the workers' lifestyles, and job losses for many.
The brutal results of globalization on the American tire business continues unabated.