Local News

Kelly-Springfield Employees Await News Of Who Stays, Who Goes

Posted October 9, 2001 7:01 a.m. EDT

— The struggling economy has led Cumberland County's Kelly-Springfield plant to lay off hundreds of employees.

With about 3,600 employees overall, Kelly-Springfield is one of Cumberland County's largest private employers, and now as many as 475 workers there could lose their jobs.

The layoffs come as parent company Goodyear reduces its output and adjusts production schedules at five North American tire factories, given the economic uncertainty.

Goodyear will be laying off a total of 1,400 employees. The other facilities affected are in Danville, Va.; Gadsden, Ala.; Hunstville, Ala.; and Tyler, Texas.

The hourly wage earners at Kelly-Springfield say they have not seen a layoff this large since 1985.

The plant produces tires for cars and light trucks. The union that represents hourly workers says the facility makes about 58,000 tires per day.

Union leaders say they do not have a timetable for when the pink slips will go out or when the layoffs will take effect. They hope to learn more next week.

So do the employees who could face unemployment soon.

"A lot of people are depressed. This kind of news doesn't go well," says K.B. Johnson.

The news could not come at a worse time for one employee who thinks he is on the bubble.

Max Recod has three kids and another due this week. He knows that while seniority figures to be a large factor in who stays and who goes, he hopes his two years at Kelly-Springfield are enough to keep him making tires a while longer.

"They're a good company to work for. It's just hard times right now," Recod says.

Jobs at tire plants typically pay better than many manufacturing jobs, so the loss is a blow to the local economy, which could also suffer from the deployment of local military men and women who would typically be spending money locally during the holiday season.