AKRON—Workers at the Goodyear Amiens North tire plant in Amiens, France, are suing the company in Summit County Common Pleas Court, claiming it violated French labor law in deciding to close the plant without informing the union.
"The laws of France are designed to protect its workers from employers disregarding the impact of their decisions that disrupt the lives of their employees," said the complaint filed April 9 by the Comite d'Etablissement d'Amiens Nord, also known as the Central Works Council. The council represents the 1,173 workers at the Amiens Nord facility.
The council seeks orders to increase tire production at Amiens North; to forbid Goodyear from relocating consumer tire production without first notifying workers; compensatory damages of approximately $4 million; and other damages, remedies and costs the court deems proper.
According to the complaint, the management of Goodyear France withheld important information from the council and workers starting in May 2009, when it first said it was contemplating shutting down consumer tire production and selling farm tire operations at Amiens North.
In 2009, Goodyear cut consumer tire production at Amiens North by 2 million units without informing workers. This was a violation of the French Labor Code, the complaint said.
Also, Goodyear told the Amiens North workers in January 2011 that Titan International Inc. was willing to take over the farm tire business at Amiens North and preserve jobs there for two years, when in fact Titan had no such intentions, the complaint said.
Three times, once in 2009 and twice in 2011, the President of the Civil Court of Nanterre found Goodyear in violation of the French Labor Code. She ordered the company to suspend its restructuring plans, but Goodyear continued to transfer production from Amiens North anyway, the complaint said.
"By relocating the production of consumer tires at the Amiens North factory to other group entities, Goodyear intentionally implemented a plan to insure that the production of consumer tires at the Amiens North factory would cease to be profitable, and thus jury-rigged its own self-serving 'economic justification," it said.
A Goodyear spokesman declined comment on the complaint, saying the company had not yet seen a copy.
Titan decided earlier this year not to buy the farm tire business at Amiens, leading to an acrimonious exchange of letters between Maurice "Morry" Taylor, Titan chairman and CEO, and Arnaud Montebourg, French Minister of Industry.