Even as Bridgestone Americas announced layoffs at its keystone LaVergne, Tenn., tire plant, the company may completely shutter passenger and light truck tire production there.
The tiremaker said Monday that due to the downturn in the U.S. tire market it would lay off 148 hourly and 10 salary workers as of Dec. 21. In addition, Bridgestone Americas has cut production at the plant to bring inventories in line with the market.
The plant, built in 1972 by the then Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. and bought by Bridgestone (USA) Inc. in 1983, employs 1,700 people. Initially the plant produced only medium truck tires; Bridgestone added passenger and light truck/SUV tire production in the early 1990s.
In its press statement announcing the layoffs, Bridgestone Americas said, “because of the weak and decreasing demand in the North American passenger and light truck tire markets, the company advised representatives of the USW that it may be necessary to cease most or all passenger and light truck tire production at the LaVergne facility.”
In keeping with the terms of its contract with the USW, Bridgestone Americas gave the union six months notice of the possible shutdown of all passenger and light truck/SUV tire production there. The move, the tiremaker said, has no impact on the plant’s medium truck tire production.
Elimination of consumer tire production at the LaVergne plant could occur on or before June 30, 2009, and would result in the loss of some 50 jobs.
“The steps we announced today were taken only after serious consideration of our alternatives; however, these actions are necessary in order to ensure the health of our entire North American tire business,” said Steve Brooks, president of manufacturing operations for the tiremaker. “The appropriate union officials, as well as government and community leaders, have been contacted to explain the situation at the plant.”
The company said it “stands ready to immediately begin discussions with the USW on what, if any, actions could be taken to continue consumer tire production at that facility.”
No other Bridgestone Americas tire plants are affected at this point, the company said. (Courtesy of Tire Review)