11/15/2007 12:00 AM
Relief efforts for laid-off Goodyear workers will include benefits processing, job fairs and perhaps monies for work force training, leaders of those efforts told the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce board on Tuesday.
The current master contract between Goodyear Corp. and the United Steelworkers, ratified in late December 2006, indicated the Tyler plant would stay open at least through 2007.
On Oct. 30, Goodyear announced that tire production at the plant would cease in January and a layoff would eliminate most of the hourly positions in the plant. That news was bad, but at least workers and their families have had time to prepare for it, state Sen. Kevin Eltife told the board.
"The fact that we've got an extra year, it's not as dire a (situation) over there for the employees," said Eltife, R-Tyler.
Eltife was chairman of a task force that assembled a year ago to bring together local social service organizations into a one-stop shop for workers who either needed help getting through last year's union strike or who would need help if they were to be laid off.
Fred Peters, coordinator of Eltife's task force, said a transition committee composed of union representatives, plant representatives and ex-officio members has been assembled to oversee the workers who will lose their jobs.
Layoff notifications will go out Jan. 1-14, Peters said.
Jim Wansley, president of United Steelworkers Local 746L, previously said the company indicated that more than 600 of its approximately 750 hourly employees would be laid off.
The workers transition committee will establish another one-stop shop for laid-off employees. Services could include job fairs and the processing of unemployment benefits.
Peters said workers might be eligible to receive Trade Adjustment Assistance or Trade Readjustment Allowances.
TAA is a federally funded employment program that helps people who have had their jobs impacted by foreign imports. According to program information, workers could be eligible to receive re-employment services, allowances for job searches or relocation, a health coverage tax credit or training.
TRA is income support for people who have used all their unemployment compensation and whose jobs were affected by foreign imports.
Tom Mullins, Tyler Economic Development Council and chamber president and chief executive officer, said the TEDC will apply to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Develo-pment Administration, for a $100,000 grant to be used for developing a strategic plan for dealing with the loss of production and manufacturing jobs.
The TEDC partnered with the Texas Engineering Extension Service, to which it will provide data. The extension service will use the data in writing the grant application.
Mullins also said the East Texas Workforce Board is applying for a $200,000 U.S. Department of Labor regional innovation grant for development of a strategy for an economic development initiative and work force development, which includes training and skills development.
Goodyear plans to retain some employees so it can continue to operate a mixing center at the plant.
Mullins said the facility would become a source for a rubber compound to be used by other plants that need that additional rubber for their tire production. He said the center would use about 40 percent of the total plant space.
"This is mostly bad news, but they're going to be here for two more years," Mullins said, referring to the remaining two years left on the master contract.
Although the chance may be slim, Mullins said Goodyear could restart tire production at the Tyler plant if market conditions demand it.
Also Tuesday, the chamber board:
Approved the chamber's 2007-08 work program.
Approved new member applications and cancellations.
Oversaw the Contactor of the Month Award to Cindy Smoak.
Oversaw an award presented to Sherry Watson, administrative assistant for membership services, denoting a decade of service to the chamber.