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Bridgestone Firestone confirms permanent layoffs at Oklahoma City plant

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Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC will terminate 416 positions at its Oklahoma City, Okla., plant effective Oct. 28, 2006. The company had previously announced that it was closing the facility on or about Dec. 31, 2006.

In an official statement, Bridgestone Firestone wrote the affected

employees will receive information on individual severance, benefits and pension information prior to their last day of employment, pursuant to the union contract.

"The affected employees have already been provided information on outplacement services and training opportunities," according to the company.

"Further, employees can use the state of Oklahoma's Web site or visit any of the state's one-stop work centers for help with creating and posting resumes and seeking employment. The Web site,

www.DaytonOKCSupport.com, includes a job link that was created by the plant, union and state of Oklahoma specifically for affected Bridgestone Firestone employees, and will soon include a virtual

job fair."

The one-stop centers also provide information on any federal programs for which employees are eligible.

"The state of Oklahoma has set up a computer lab at the Oklahoma City plant where employees can take a survey and complete an assessment to help them determine future job opportunities. Based on employee feedback, we also have worked with the state to set up specific training and certification classes," says Bridgestone Firestone.

The plant is producing tires, although production is being gradually diminished in preparation for its year-end closing.

A Bridgestone Firestone spokesman said the decision to close the plant was a difficult one. "We have been in discussions with local union 998 of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union on a plant closure package for all employees, but the union has broken off those discussions and no additional

meetings are currently scheduled."

A union spokesman confirms it broke off talks. "(Bridgestone/Firestone) wants to separate the possibility of the Oklahoma City closure from the rest of the master contract negotiations. The USW believes that the issue of job security as defined by the 2003 contract is still on the table."

According to Modern Tire Dealer's 2006 Facts Issue, the Oklahoma City plant can manufacture 42,500 passenger and 8,000 light truck tires per day at full capacity.

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