Goodyear Strike Leads to Layoffs at Chatham Fiber Plant

Posted December 7, 2006 7:43 p.m. EST

— As the strike at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. enters its ninth week, the work stoppage is beginning to impact other businesses.

Performance Fibers in Moncure announced this week that it would temporarily cut its production work force, in part because of fewer orders from Goodyear. The company, which makes polyester fibers and yarns for tires and other products, is the biggest employer in Moncure, with almost 500 workers.

"We've been through some slow times, but we've never actually seen anything quite like this before," laid-off worker David Medlin said.

"It's just been rumors going around that Goodyear canceled all their orders," laid-off contractor Chris Thomas said.

The layoff involved "a very small percentage" of employees, spokeswoman Joan Izzo said. Workers volunteered to take vacation or receive unemployment benefits, with about 80 percent choosing the unemployment benefits.

"Some of the guys would have it worse, so I just volunteered and tried to help out," said Medlin, who has worked at Performance Fibers for 31 years. "I'll just have to cut back and watch my expenses the rest of the month."

Many subcontractors said they were forced out and had no choice to volunteer. They said the timing of the layoffs is especially difficult with the holidays a few weeks off.

"I've got a child, and I mean, it's just bad because with a kid, you've got to put food on the table," Thomas said.

Izzo said the majority of the affected employees would be back on the job by the beginning of January. Another round of layoffs is expected at the plant in the coming days because of slower orders around the holiday season and extra end-of-year inventory at customer sites.