Workers at Southern Tire Plant Pushing to Unionize
December 14, 2021
A South Carolina group of community leaders and national labor unions, including the United Steelworkers, is pressuring Giti Tire Manufacturing, Ltd. to change the working conditions for their workers in Richburg, SC, including allowing them to unionize.
The United Steelworkers union has been openly critical of how Giti Tire spent millions in COVID-19 stimulus money. The criticism is based on a report that accused the tire manufacturer of taking almost $10 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program without bringing 100 employees back to work after the plant closed for several weeks during the first days of the pandemic.
Giti Tire’s response to the accusation of misusing COVID-19 stimulus money was that it had appropriately qualified for the federal assistance and all furloughed workers had been offered their jobs back by August 2020. They also said some of the furloughed workers declined to come back to work at the plant.
Giti Tire has also been on the state’s legislative radar. It was named in a 2019 lawsuit filed by South Carolina Senator Dick Hapootlian demanding that the state Commerce Department be transparent about taxpayer-funded business incentives used to attract businesses to South Carolina.
Conditions at the Richburg, SC plant have been under scrutiny since it began production in 2017. Workers at the manufacturing facility have consistently complained about low wages, inconsistent work schedules, forced overtime, and retaliatory actions when they take time off to be with their families.
Giti Tire believes that if workers have complaints, they can be resolved internally within the company. Giti Tire has stated that it will meet directly with workers to discuss and resolve any issues.
The group advocating for worker unionization at Giti Tire has requested a meeting with the company’s officials. So far, Giti Tire has not agreed to this meeting.
Surging support for labor unions is beginning to leave its mark on the American economy. By now, most have heard about unionization efforts at major companies such as Starbucks, Amazon, and other corporate giants, but the trend is more widespread than a few companies or even a few industries.