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Are Firestone Workers Merely Cogs in a Wheel?

October 29, 2000

"Cause of Tire Failures Still a Matter of Dispute" [Oct. 22] says Firestone "workers" have been known to "overproduce the coated steel belts and then stock the excess; if they sit in inventory too long, the rubber gets too dry and stiff."

And "workers have been known to use chemical solvents to make them stickier, but solvent not allowed to dry properly becomes a contaminant that prevents adhesion."

A more accurate scenario might detail how management knows at all times what's in inventory and how long it's been there; that it orders overproduction to use up material on hand and create a surplus in inventory to buffer against demand shocks; and that it tells the workers to apply the solvents as a quick-and-dirty fix to the problem of an aged and brittle tire carcass.

Quality is a management decision, and the inadequacies found in Firestone production should be laid at the feet of those really responsible.

KENT SOUTHARD

Dana Point

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