Kelly Springfield Future Remains Unclear - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

06/30/03 - Tyler

Kelly Springfield Future Remains Unclear

With contract negotiators away from the table, confusion is mounting about the fate of the Kelly Springfield Tire plant in Tyler. The picture became even more blurred this morning when CNN reported Goodyear Inc. had given its 72-hour notice of a strike.

But contract negotiators with the United Steel Worker's Union dispelled that claim Monday morning. Neither side has called for a strike; however, with no talks of a resolution, employees are waiting anxiously for answers. About 1200 positions at the plant remain in question.

A spokesperson for the union believes Goodyear has good reason to avoid a strike, considering most of their production depends on union employees. As far as the local economy goes, Kelly Springfield contributes $70 million to the annual payroll and generates almost a billion dollars in direct and indirect economic output.

Employees at the plant keep working, but say the environment has become somewhat tense.

"The stress level in the plant is pretty high right now," says Kelly employee Freddie Wehrmann. "A lot of the employees are ready to retire and people are in doubt about what their retirement benefits will be. Then, there is a lot of younger employees that have large house notes, automobile notes and families just starting out."

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