B.F. Goodrich announces it will close its doors - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

East Alabama

B.F. Goodrich announces it will close its doors

April 13, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - A major East Alabama employer is announcing it will be closing a local plant.  Michelin North America employs more than 1,000 employees at it's B.F. Goodrich plant in Opelika.

"We've got a very loyal, hardworking workforce, and that's what makes this a very hard decision," said Scott Clark, the Chief Operating Officer of Michelin North America Small Tires.

It's the latest result of a weakening economy. Executives say Michelin North America will be shutting down it's Opelika plant on October 31, 2009.  The company points to an unprecedented decrease in demand as the reason for closing the plant. "Consumers are driving less. They're postponing their purchases of tires and that has had a big impact," Clark said.

"You can't blame anybody. It's just the economy that's causing all of these plant closures and short hours of work, that's the way I feel," George Matin, a tire employee said.

B.F. Goodrich is the area's third largest employer behind Auburn University and East Alabama Medical Center.  The plant has been operating since 1963.

One employee told News Leader 9 it's hard to imagine not working at the plant.  "I'm not buying it now. They've been saying for 40 years they are going to close it down," said Scott Kay, an employee.

Employees received the news this afternoon in a private meeting.  "I came to speak directly to employees to explain the decision to them," Clark said.  In all more than 800 hourly workers and 200 salaried employees will be forced to find new work.

"We've got a business on the side. Hopefully that is going to replace this," Kay said.  "I feel like this was very sudden. That's the only negative thing that I see about it," Mattin added.

Michelin North America is currently negotiating with the Steel Workers Union to come up with a severance package.  The company says it will also provide preferential rehiring for employees who are interested in relocating.

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