NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 17, 2009)—Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations said it will lay off 67 hourly employees at its Bloomington, Ill., facility, on March 1 because demand for construction equipment, including tires, has slumped.
The firm said the falloff in residential and commercial construction has resulted in lower sales of small and medium-size off-road tires, and it is reducing production to align it better with demand.
Sales began falling last September, and at the same time inventory levels decreased significantly, said Shawn Rasey, president of the firm's off-road, U.S. and Canada commercial tire sales division. He said production cuts, eliminating overtime and reassigning workers have been done to respond to the problem, but it hasn't been enough.
Bridgestone avoided layoffs at the end of last year via retirements.
Laid off workers who meet state criteria are eligible for unemployment benefits from the state of Illinois, the company said. Those currently enrolled in the company's medical plan will have three months of coverage at the active rate and COBRA eligibility from that point forward.
If the economy shows signs of recovery later this year, Bridgestone hopes to begin calling back workers.