TONAWANDA, N.Y. (Nov. 17, 2008) — Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Inc. plans to scale back production and cut about 150 jobs at its Tonawanda plant following a big drop in tire sales.
The joint venture of Goodyear and Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. offered a buyout package to the 1,100 employees at the factory in early November and gave them two weeks to make a decision, a Goodyear spokeswoman said.
If fewer than 150 workers decide to take the package, management at the facility will move to voluntary layoffs to reduce the work force, she said. Should that be unsuccessful, West Amherst, N.Y.-based Goodyear Dunlop will impose involuntary layoffs.
“If they are laid off, they could be called back,” she said, “but if they take the buyout, they're basically terminated.”
The 150 figure could be slightly lower because a few unfilled salaried positions at the plant will be included in the job-cut total, the spokeswoman said.
Production of passenger and commercial truck tires will be trimmed from a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week schedule to three shifts, five days a week, the spokeswoman said. The other product line made at the plant, motorcycle tires, will continue to be manufactured on a 24-7 basis, she said, because sales continue to be strong in that segment.
The new schedule goes into effect Dec. 1, she said.
Workers at the plant in Tonawanda, located near Buffalo, N.Y., are represented by the United Steelworkers, which has completed discussions with the company on the cutbacks, she said. “So we're moving forward.”
Union and company officials began meeting Oct. 27, with Goodyear Dunlop completing its plans Oct. 31, according to Kathy Kluczynski, vice president of Local 135, which represents workers at the factory. “Everything happened very quickly,” she said.
She said the union worked with the firm to solve the problem because “we wanted to keep the plant running. So we moved to a five-day schedule, which caused reductions in the work force. We're saving some jobs by doing it this way and those laid off are put on a recall list.”
Workers with less than two years on the job can be recalled for five years, she said, while those with more than two years can be recalled indefinitely.
To date, about 58 union members have indicated they'll take the buyout, Kluczynski said. If that figure holds true, about 90 will be laid off by Dec. 1.
The company currently makes about 5,500 passenger and 2,000 truck tires each day at the facility. It also produces about 4,700 motorcycle tires a day.
The company spokeswoman said Goodyear Dunlop needed to reduce output at the factory to keep it profitable. “The company has had lower demand for truck and vehicle tires and it needed to cut costs.”