A spokesperson for the Firestone tire plant in Des Moines called me today to say Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell’s claims about his plant weren’t true. Yesterday, Boswell held an event with the United Steelworkers District #11 political coordinator. They claimed Firestone’s week-long furloughs of 1,400 of the approximately 1,600 workers at the plant happened because of Congress’ failure to pass a new farm bill. Boswell also claimed his Republican opponent, Congressman Tom Latham, is responsible since he is close friends with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner. Workers filled out unemployment forms during the campaign event while the two made their comments.
Firestone countered today with the spokesman telling me that the workforce reduction had been planned for a while and happens several times a year when inventory exceeds demand. Jeremy Smith said, “Every year at all of our facilities we make scheduled adjustments to our manufacturing.” He added the slowdown had nothing to do with the farm bill. In fact, the Des Moines plant is undergoing a planned $74 million expansion because of the recent increase in business in the agriculture industry.