USW, Kumho Workers Seek Industrial Authority’s Action on COVID-19

Contact: Joe Smydo,, 412-562-2281

Workers at Kumho Tire today called on the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority to intervene in a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Georgia plant.

At least twelve workers contracted the virus and one died in the latest wave of infections affecting the facility, which Kumho continues to operate without basic safety precautions.

The United Steelworkers (USW)—the union representing about 320 workers at Kumho—asked the industrial authority to step in because it owns the property on which the plant is located.

“The residents of Macon-Bibb County gave Kumho tens of millions of dollars in incentives to operate this factory,” noted USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo, who represents Steelworkers in Georgia, six other southern states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Kumho has chosen to repay that generosity by putting the entire community, including children and senior citizens, at risk,” Flippo said. “We ask the authority to meet with workers as soon as possible to discuss this crisis and decide on a course of action.”

In a letter formally seeking the authority’s assistance, USW Staff Representative Alex Perkins said workers repeatedly raised safety concerns as more than 30 colleagues contracted the virus in recent months. But the company still refuses to meet with workers or implement the kinds of safety precautions now standard in most U.S. workplaces.

“Kumho management’s indifference is not surprising,” Perkins wrote, noting it’s already on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s radar for multiple tragic workplace incidents.

In its rental agreement, Kumho pledged to keep the plant in a safe condition. “We call on the authority to carefully review that section of the agreement and protect the community from needless danger,” Flippo said.

The workers at Kumho voted to join the USW in 2019. Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed the last of the company’s objections and certified the election results. They will now begin bargaining a contract.

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

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Media Contacts

Communications Director:
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USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

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60 Blvd. of the Allies
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