NORWOOD, N.C.—An aircraft tire manufacturing plant is continuing to reduce worker hours due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
Michelin North America Inc., in a letter to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, said a variety of pandemic-related forces are impacting the Norwood facility's operations.
"We remain hopeful that these restrictions will be temporary. However, it is possible that there will be longer-term restrictions on the site's ability to operate at full capacity," the letter reads.
Michelin updated state officials on conditions at the plant as part of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the letter reads. WARN provides workers notice of significant changes to employment at locations with at least 100 workers.
Factors cited by Michelin in the letter include continued spread of COVID-19, social distancing orders, disruptions to the supply chain, reduced consumer demand and the impact the illness is having on airlines.
"This notice is being provided under the federal WARN Act out of an abundance of caution. We hope that business conditions will allow operations to resume to greater capacity within six months, but because of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that the need for reduced hours will last longer," the letter states.
Michelin indicated its policy is not to report what the company calls "region-specific information regarding business conditions."
But Michelin did provide some overall insight into the impact the pandemic is having on business. "As a result of the continued effects from the crisis, some of our factories have operated at lower levels of production due to market conditions," the company said in a statement in response to questions regarding the Norwood location.
"On June 1, we began providing notice to our employees at the Norwood aircraft tire manufacturing site that rotating schedules and reduced hours implemented in March would be extended until market conditions allow the site to resume operations at higher capacity," the company said in its statement.
The WARN notification covers the entire Norwood facility that has about 425 workers, Michelin said.
The company indicated that "these prolonged business circumstances were not foreseeable when the furloughs began."
To help protect against COVID-19, the company has adjusted shift schedules at the plant, a move providing extra time for social distancing when arriving and leaving work. Each workstation also is disinfected before and after each shift. And employees receive temperature checks and medical screenings when they arrive.
Michelin said is providing "ample stocks of masks for all employees" and increasing the frequency of cleaning in common areas including restrooms and breakrooms, the company said.
Michelin North America is a unit of Michelin, based in Clermont-Ferrand, France, the world's second-largest tire maker.