Former Goodyear plant in Asheboro to close; 300 to lose jobs

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ASHEBORO, N.C. — The Hyosung plant in Asheboro, formerly the Goodyear plant, announced to employees the facility will be closing its doors as early as the beginning of December.

On Tuesday, employees received a letter from Terry Swanna, Executive Vice President of Hyosung USA Inc., announcing the closure.

According to Jason McNeill, President of United Steelworkers Union local 1161, the company will begin phasing out employees at the beginning of December.

The plant will ultimately close in January.

“It’s definitely a tragedy, not only for the workers but the community,” said McNeill. “A lot of people have been there since 1984 – they’re like family members.”

Sandy Johnson is one of those long-term employees. She started working for Goodyear on September 26, 1987. Wednesday was her 25th anniversary.

Instead of celebrating, she was mourning her imminent unemployment.

"Got my letter yesterday. Happy anniversary!" Johnson said sarcastically.

Johnson said she knew something was up when Goodyear sold the plant.

Hyosung USA Inc. purchased the Goodyear Tire & Rubber facility in July of 2011 and since has hired nearly 40 more workers.

“We were very hopeful when the South Korean company bought us out at the time Goodyear was suffering financially,” said McNeill.  “There’s always a lot of nervousness when your bought out by a company you really don’t know a lot about.”

"I thought 'Goodyear's going to look after us.' They said they would," Johnson said.

“Since the sale with the market constantly declining at first it picked up, then toward the end of last year it declined significantly,” said McNeill.

In the letter the company gave to employees, there was no information about why the facility will be closing. However, the letter did say the company expected the closure to be permanent.

“This layoff is a result of the Company’s decision to cease operation at the Asheboro Wire Plant, which will result in closure of the entire plant and the termination of the employment of substantially all of the plant’s employees (approximately 310 employees).”

“The closure will occur on or about December 1, 2012. This action is expected to be permanent. The company does not have provisions for “bumping rights” for employees at any other location.”

That leaves Johnson and her husband Neal, who has worked at the plant since it opened, at a loss for what comes next.

"Have to keep paying our bills and have to keep paying our taxes and the biggest concern I think, is probably health care," said Johnson.

Johnson said ultimately, what happens is not up to her, and that's both scary and reassuring at the same time.

"I'm a very spiritual person and I feel like my life is in the Lord's hands. Always has been, and I'm sure he's going to look after me."