PITTSBURGH (July 12) — The United Steelworkers said it has received notice from Michelin North America Inc. about planned cutbacks at its Opelika, Ala., plant, but the labor union hopes it can secure capital investments in the plant during master contract talks.
Michelin announced July 11 that its BFGoodrich manufacturing unit plans to reduce production in Opelika by 30-40 percent, beginning in the fourth quarter. About 30-40 percent of the plant´s 1,300-plus employees also will be indefinitely laid off, the tire maker said.
Michelin cited overcapacity in the mass-market passenger tire segment in North America as the reason for the cutback. "The mass-market tire segment has been shrinking over the past several years and is also experiencing intense cost pressure due to imports from competitors in lower-cost countries," Michelin said in a statement.
The USW said in a statement that companies are abandoning production of lower-margin tires in North America because of this competition.
"This is not a productivity issue," said Ron Hoover, USW executive vice president. "It´s about marketing and that´s why we´re working to secure the long-term viability of the Opelika plant by negotiating capital investment expenditures that will enable Opelika to upgrade the products it produces."
The union and BFGoodrich are currently engaged in contract talks, in which the USW recently named BFGoodrich as its target company.