Goodyear-Gadsden has been in the local news recently, and several members of the City Council spoke at Tuesday’s meeting about speculation and concerns over the future of the plant.
“Goodyear is a very, very important corporate citizen for the City of Gadsden, and our goal and objective and effort is for Goodyear to continue to be a corporate citizen within our city,” said council member Deverick Williams.
Last week, The Gadsden Times reported on a letter from United Steelworkers Local 12 President Mickey R. Williams Jr. in which Williams said local union leaders had traveled to Pittsburgh to talk to international USW President Tom Conway about issues concerning the Gadsden plant.
Williams said there is the potential for buyouts “in the near future” in Gadsden, a plant that has had 170 employees laid off since schedule changes went into effect in April.
John F. Floyd, a contributing columnist to The Times, wrote an opinion column on Sunday analyzing the words of Goodyear board chairman, CEO and president Richard J. Kramer from the company’s second-quarter earnings call.
(Floyd, who is not employed by the newspaper, formerly served as director of United Kingdom manufacturing for Goodyear as well as vice president of manufacturing and international operations for General Tire & Rubber Co. and director of manufacturing for Chrysler Corp.)
Over the past week, there has been widespread speculation on social media about the future of the Gadsden plant, but Deverick Williams pointed out that the plant is under protected status through 2022 through the latest union collective bargaining agreement.
According to Times reporting, that August 2017 agreement gave protected status to five plants, including Gadsden.
Williams also said that there have been and continue to be efforts from every level of government to continue to partner with Goodyear and secure the plant’s future.
However, he said editorials involving the CEO and “loose-lipped comments about Mexican operations and Mexican plants” aren’t helpful to the situation.
“These types of comments have to be kept to a minimum,” Williams said. “We don’t have the luxury of asking a corporate partner to stay in our community and continue to invest but at the same time blasting them publicly.”
Council member Kent Back echoed Williams’ comments, saying that there is a lot of activity going on behind the scenes that cannot be discussed publicly.
He also pointed out that negative comments, even those on social media, could have an effect on businesses that are looking to locate in Gadsden. He said developers could read those and walk away with a negative perception of the city.
“If you have those comments, keep them to yourselves,” Back said.
Council member Jason Wilson was direct after saying that he would have been a third-generation Goodyear worker if he hadn’t started his own business.
“If there is something that this City Council or the city can do to prevent any job loss at Goodyear, it’ll be done. Period,” he said.
Mayor Sherman Guyton was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, so there were no comments from the mayor’s office during the remarks section of the meeting.