USW looks for options to save Kitchener plant

Feb. 2, 2006

The United Steelworkers (USW) expressed “grave disappointment” via news wire reports after being notified of Michelin North America (Canada) Inc.’s intent to close its Kitchener, Ontario, facility (see related news item).

Michelin stated that manufacturing operations will cease on July 22, 2006, which the union notes is the expiration date of the current contract.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the company intends to take this action without involving us in any discussions that lead up to this decision,” says Ron Hoover, USW executive vice president. “I thought we had a better relationship than this.”

(In an exclusive interview conducted by Modern Tire Dealer’s Senior Editor Mike Manges for the January issue, Hoover said he felt the union had a “better than good” relationship with Michelin. “They seem to be a company that you can work with,” he remarked. For the full article, click on ‘We’re not closing Steelworker factories: Union chief Hoover cites job security as top goal in 2006 contract talks’ in the Current Issue section of’s home page.)

The news wire report says that the USW feels Michelin's claims that overcapacity in its mass market passenger tire production in North America is the reason for its decision is contrary to the current agreement, which was finalized in August 2004. That contract grants the facility plant protection status, provides its workers with a network of job security provisions and commits to investing the necessary capital needed to increase the quantity of higher quality, more profitable tires produced at the Kitchener plant.

“It is our intention to sit down with the company as soon as possible and explore every available option for saving the production at the Kitchener plant,” says Hoover. “The damage being done to the North American economy by cheap imports is something that needs to be addressed.”