By Cari Phillips
When driving during a busy week, tires work overtime to move vehicles to their destination. How often is a thought directed at the formation of those tires and the plant they came from? Or when are the hands that built and placed them on cars and trucks considered?
For citizens of Union City, Tenn., a small town 60 miles north of Jackson, these questions are more than passing thoughts.
In a news report by corporate officials, Goodyear announced the Union City plant will be closing at the end of 2011 “as part of its strategy to reduce high-cost manufacturing capacity globally and provide cost-effective, high-value-added products that the market is demanding, while continuing to make high-quality products for its customers.”
Brooke Laws, senior athletic training major and Union City resident said, “Goodyear employees make up most of the population of Union City. It is very important to the survival of the town. Without Goodyear, Union City will turn into a ghost town.”
According to the quarterly report, the Goodyear plant employs approximately 1,900 associates. Laws’ father has worked for the plant 23 years and is unsure of where he will work after the plant closes.
Goodyear claims the plant’s closing is due to high energy cost. The closure will eliminate nearly 12 million units of high-cost energy in Union City and the surrounding area and will save 15 to 25 million units of energy worldwide.
“This action is expected to provide annual cost savings of approximately $80 million,” the report stated.
Richard J. Kramer, chairman and chief executive officer of Goodyear, also said in a press release that the Union City plant is no longer cost-competitive or able to demonstrate sustainable world-class productivity.
The workers’ union does not plan on leaving the employees without any assistance after the closure. They plan on compensating the employees before they leave in an attempt to ease the pain of losing their jobs.
Several Union students have relatives and friends who work at the plant and will be directly affected by the closing. Along with the loss of income, they will no longer have access to health insurance and other benefits the plant had provided to its employees.
The loss of income and benefits provides uncertainty about the future of citizens of Union City and the vitality of the town, but not much can be done by the outside community at this point, Laws said.