DES MOINES, Iowa (Jan. 9, 2015) — Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations announced a voluntary layoff of 69 employees at the company's Des Moines agriculture tire plant, beginning Jan. 5.
Bridgestone said the layoffs are the result of an overall industry decline in the demand for agriculture tires.
“Starting in the third quarter of 2014, ag original equipment manufacturers began adjusting production down in response to the downturn in the ag sector,” Don Darden, executive director communications for Bridgestone, told Tire Business in an email.
“This downturn came about as a result of lower overall commodity prices that were down from record highs in North America. This in turn impacted gross farm income.
“Commodity prices have leveled off to 2010 levels, which are far below the record levels farmers experienced from 2011 to 2013. How long this decline will last is difficult to say at this time.”
Employees impacted by the voluntary layoff will collect unemployment pay in addition to Supplementary Unemployment Benefits as stipulated by the current union contract between Bridgestone Americans and the United Steel Workers Local 310. Bridgestone said under this agreement, employees will receive 80 percent of their regular pay during the layoff period.
Bridgestone said it will continue monitoring industry demand and reevaluate the layoff status at the end of the first quarter.
“We will be evaluating the layoffs on a quarterly basis, and based on demand and attrition at the plant, employees will be reinstated accordingly,” Mr. Darden said.
“The layoffs were implemented as a last resort. Over the last three years we have taken a number of measures to avoid any layoffs, including the reduction of production days to hold down costs and inventory levels.
“Unfortunately, based on current demand the layoffs were unavoidable.”