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Wilson Firestone Workers Not To Blame For Faulty Tires

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Workers at the Firestone plant in Wilson were relieved to find out that the tire problems involving Ford Explorers are linked to a tire design flaw, not poor workmanship.(WRAL-TV5 News)
WILSON — Firestone employees in Wilson feel vindicated after Firestone and Ford Motor Company have pointed the blame at each other since faulty tires were involved in more than 100 deadly accidents.

It is the first good news that Firestone employees have heard in months. The tire maker says an adhesive that holds steel belts together, not bad workmanship, may be to blame for the accidents.

Firestone employees in Wilson say they have been confident in their work all along.

"Everybody's been thinking we're going to get laid off, but you just believe in it and keep working," says Firestone employee Greg Moore. "As long as you know you're doing your job, everything will come out right."

Firestone is, by far, Wilson County's largest employer with more than 2,000 employees. Even those who are not directly connected to the plant say this is good news for the entire community. They hope it will put to rest any rumors of layoffs.

Throughout Wilson, a grassroots public relations effort is underway to show support for the plant. The Chamber of Commerce has given away hundreds of yard signs. An effort that appears to be vindicated by the investigation.

"The workers here and the people who are associated with this plant are qualified people and quality people," says Bruce Beasley of the Chamber of Commerce. "We always felt like we would have positive results with this campaign."

If a simple chemical change can make the tires safer, residents believe their jobs will be more secure than they were just a few weeks ago.

The Ford Motor Company is doing its own investigation. So far, it appears to be pointing to the same cause. Ford is also recalling more than 110,000 Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers.

The problem is with a computer that is supposed to limit how fast the SUVs can go. The recall is for 1999 and 2000 model Explorers and Mountaineers with 15-inch Firestone Wilderness AT tires. Engineers found the problem during the Firestone tire recall.