A group of six U.S. tire importers including two major private branders have joined forces to battle efforts by the United Steelworkers to limit the importation of China-made passenger tires.
The group, which calls itself the American Coalition for Free Trade in Tires, includes Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. and Del-Nat Corp., as well as importers American Omni Trading Co., Dunlap & Kyle Co. Inc., Orteck Global Supply & Distribution Co., and Foreign Tire Sales Inc.
In 2007, Foreign Tire Sales faced the recall of some 250,000 light truck tires it imported from China’s Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. Less than 20,000 of those tires were recovered in the recall, which threatened to bankrupt the importer.
The group has retained Washington, D.C., law firm Jochum Shore & Trossevin to represent it in the matter.
In April, the USW filed a formal complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to place limits on the number of China-produced passenger tires that can enter the U.S. The union claimed that the number of tire imported from China has risen steadily over the last six years while domestic production has fallen, costing U.S. jobs.
The USW petition, though, fails to address tires produced by China tire plants owned and operated by Goodyear, Cooper, Bridgestone, Michelin and others, all of which have manufacturing plants in the U.S.
“Restricting imports is not the answer to our economic problems, which are not unique to the tire industry,” said lead attorney Marguerite Trossevin, a former deputy chief counsel at the Department of Commerce’s Import Administration.
“In a weak economy, the last thing we should be doing is making it more expensive for American consumers to maintain their cars,” said Dennis King of Dunlap & Kyle Co. “There are thousands of Americans working for small to medium U.S. tire companies whose jobs will be on the line if these quotas are put in place. Many U.S. companies refuse to make our tire brands anymore and now the unions want to cut off our imports.”
“What’s supposed to happen to my company and my workers?” asked Del-Nat president Jim Mayfield. (Courtesy of Tire Review/Akron