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Goodyear, Major Revenue Source Layoff Workers In Alabama Small Town

Gadsden, Alabama's main revenue source for the town and its employees has to be the Goodyear plant for years and it is now in jeopardy with the threat of new layoffs according the the Gadsden Times.

Additional layoffs appear certain for the already-depleted workforce at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Gadsden, based on a statement Tuesday from a company official in Akron, Ohio.

Barbara Hatala, Goodyear’s Americas operations and non-wired communications manager, in an email to The Times, said, “The Goodyear-Gadsden plant is rightsizing staffing levels to accommodate an adjusted production schedule, following recent voluntary buyouts for union associates.”

That would confirm anecdotal and social media reports of additional job losses at the plant, which saw 740 employees take buyouts from the company effective Dec. 20, 2019.

The company had indicated it would continue scaled-back operations in Gadsden.

Mickey Williams, president of United Steelworkers Local 12 that represents union employees at the plant, had no comment on the situation.

The buyouts, which were authorized in the current five-year labor agreement between the company and union, followed Goodyear’s announcement in April 2019 that the plant would switch to three conventional eight-hour shifts over five days. Estimates at the time were that roughly a quarter of its employees would be laid off in the second quarter of the year.

The company employed 1,698 people at the time, according to the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority website. That number stood at 1,400 in December, before the buyouts became effective, and was listed at 650 on Tuesday.

According to Rubber & Plastics News, Goodyear Chief Financial Officer Darren Wells said last year that the company was considering a plan to restructure its domestic operations — reducing “low-value, high-cost” capacity — to improve its business competitiveness. The company has been plagued by declining sales, revenues and stock prices in recent years.

The website said Goodyear in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission projected that the plan would improve its U.S. segment’s earnings by $30 million in 2020 and by $40 million each year moving forward.

A similar reorganization of the company’s operations in Germany was expected to improve that segment’s earnings by $60 million to $70 million over a two-year period, according to Rubber & Plastics News, and eliminate as many as 1,100 jobs.

The Gadsden plant opened in 1929 and is Goodyear’s oldest production facility. Its peak employment was more than 4,000 in the 1980s.

According to Local 12, it’s had a $1.53 billion annual impact on the community in both economic stimulation, local taxes and charitable contributions.

The plant’s most recent expansion was in 2015, but since then Goodyear has focused its attention elsewhere, such as a pending $180 million expansion at its Fayetteville, North Carolina, plant, and its facility in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, that went online in 2018, and according to Rubber & Plastics News has a projected output of 6.2 million tires a year

— in line with what Gadsden was doing at full strength, but at significantly lower operating costs.

Now what will this mean for Tourism and Trade Shows coming to the area and how will it affect them? The real answer is time will tell. I am apart of a group of trade show vendors that visit Gadsden several times a year as part of a Gun & Knife show and I have to be honest it scares me as the last time I was there sales were drastically down. We are all independent contractors and we rent tables and booths from the promoter who rents the building in Gadsden and it is up too him to advertise and get the towns people to come to the show. If the layoff happen, no amount of advertisements will makes people come thru the door and purchase when they have no excess money for items they either need or want. So, in essessance, this layoff hurts not only the employee but also the town and it's tourism and trade with the city as a whole but also everyone visiting the town. This layoff could in fact shut down the trade shows coming to Gadsden which also affects the hotel industry and food industry. I am not saying it will, I am speaking for myself as a vendor that I have to look at my big picture and am I willing to take a chance on paying 100's of dollars renting a booth, pay to stay at a hotel and dine in the area once again on a show that hasn't paid off the last two/ three times I have been there when the main industry was working or would it be in my best interest to look for another show in another area and give that a chance? | I would be foolish not to try another area, right??? I am sure Goodyear is not looking at the big picture of how it affects the entire region but they are only looking at their local spreadsheet numbers and that particular plant. They do not care about the locals and how it affects the local economy.

Time will only tell what will happen and if this will affect the trade industry in Gadsden as well as the local workers and economy in Gadsden. For us in the trade industry we will keeping a close eye on it I promise you!

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