October 4, 2017 10:04 am
Updated: October 4, 2017 1:23 pm

Firestone Textiles plant in Woodstock to close, 170 jobs lost

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Employees at the Firestone Fibers and Textiles facility in Woodstock learned early Wednesday morning the plant with over 80 years history in the community will be closing in 2018.

Bridgestone Canada Inc. announced Wednesday it would close the plant over an 18-month period.

The closure affects 35 salaried employees and 135 hourly employees.

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“There is a strong team at the Woodstock plant, and we are grateful for our employees’ contributions to our business and the community. In light of increasing global competition and difficult market conditions, however, it is no longer viable to maintain operations in Woodstock,” said Bill Thompson, chief operating officer, Bridgestone Americas, Inc., in a release.

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The closure of the plant will come as a blow to the community. It first opened in 1936 and currently produces Nylon 6 for external customers, and reinforcement materials for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, Firestone Industrial Products and Firestone Building Products.

Bridgestone says the closure will occur over an 18-month period starting Dec. 31, finishing in the second half of 2018.

“My thoughts are with all the employees and families that are affected by this announcement,” said Woodstock Mayor, Trevor Birtch, adding that the city will work closely with those impacted to make sure they find new jobs within the community.

“We have several employers right now that are going through expansions, and have help wanted signs.”

The automotive manufacturer Toyoto Boshoku, the steel-processing facility Trans-Mit Steel, and the automotive interior and exterior supplier Vuteq, are all looking to hire, Birtch told AM980.

The plant closure comes at the conclusion of the workers’ current contract, which was finalized in 2015 and set to run for three years.

The company says in addition to severance packages, they are working with the union to determine how to best support those affected, which may include outplacement assistance and onsite job fairs.

Tim Deelstra is a spokesperson for UFCW Local 175, which represents workers at the plant.

He says they’re disappointed with with the decision, and the union is scheduled to meet with Bridgestone representatives on October 11th.

“They’ve indicated to us that it’s a fixed decision, that they are going to do it. So those discussions will likely be about providing transition services, if they offer any incentive packages to keep people for the next year.”

“It’s a multinational corporation, who for some minor amount of profit seems to be moving business to the United States,” he said.

 

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Meanwhile, Bridgestone said they’re committed to reducing the closure’s impact on affected employees and the community.

“We are proud of our long-standing presence in Woodstock and our Canadian footprint,” said Bill Thompson.

“[We] are focused first on our employees through this transition, but also on our customers, suppliers and community partners.”

 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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