WASHINGTON — Four members of the U.S. House of Representatives are criticizing Goodyear for its refusal to allow them to tour its Mexican tire plant during a recent fact-finding trip on labor conditions in Mexico.
Goodyear said it disagrees strongly with the accusations made by the congressmen in a letter they drafted.
The representatives, led by House Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., also requested a formal response from Goodyear regarding complaints of former workers about poor working conditions, low wages, illegal termination and discrimination at the plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which opened in 2017.
"We are disappointed that Goodyear was unwilling to accommodate our request for a plant tour, and that the security team also rejected our in-person request during our visit to San Luis Potosi on Saturday, July 20," Mr. Blumenauer and the other representatives wrote in the July 29 letter to Goodyear Chairman, CEO and President Richard Kramer.
"We are also disappointed that an iconic American company like Goodyear, which is shedding jobs at home while building new facilities in Mexico, is failing to provide its workers in Mexico with basic labor rights that are recognized internationally and under Mexican law," they wrote.
Besides Blumenauer, the signatories of the letter are Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Terri Sewell of Alabama and Jimmy Gomez of California.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appointed all four to serve on the House Democratic Working Group to secure changes in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that would, according to the letter, ensure bipartisan support for the trade deal.
The working group already had grave concerns about working conditions at San Luis Potosi before its Mexican trip, according to the letter.
"Before opening or hiring a single line worker, Goodyear had already signed a contract with a non-democratic 'protection' union," the letter said.
"Less than six months after starting its operations, conditions were so poor that workers at the plant went on a wildcat strike demanding a democratic union, higher wages and improved conditions," it said.
The letter accused Goodyear of paying less than $2 per hour to junior workers at San Luis Potosi and just over $6 to the highest-paid workers.
While in Mexico, the representatives met with several workers who were fired from San Luis Potosi after striking, according to the letter.
"The workers provided compelling testimony about the poor working conditions, lack of protective gear and safety and overall training provided to workers, non-reporting of hazards, deductions that are taken from already low wages, and discrimination and harassment (directed at women workers especially) at the Goodyear facility," it said.
Besides the formal response, the representatives asked for information on what percentage of tire production at San Luis Potosi is exported to the U.S. and what effect those exports will have on Goodyear's U.S. operations.
The representatives requested Goodyear's response within two weeks of the date of the letter.
Goodyear officials could not be reached for comment.
In a statement, Goodyear acknowledged receiving the letter.
"We strongly disagree with the statements made about our working conditions and labor practices, and expect to provide a comprehensive response to the letter within the allotted timeframe," the company said.