By Bob Weaver

The closed B. F. Goodrich plant in Spencer is manufacturing escape slides in India, after announcing they would not shift production abroad, according to Keith Smith of the West Virginia Building Trades Commission.

One hundred and seventy-two workers lost their jobs this year, about half from Calhoun, when Goodrich was to have shifted the operation to Phoenix, Arizona. Only three Spencer workers took jobs with the company elsewhere.

Former Goodrich union president, John Simers of Mt. Zion, Calhoun County, indicated many workers had suspicioned the company was covering up. "Maybe the truth will finally help our workers get some help," he told The Herald.

Goodrich claimed business with the aerospace industry declined after 9-11, indicating the Spencer operation was no longer profitable. Workers heard rumors the company wanted to move some operations to India before the 9-11 attack, and company employees from India came to the Spencer plant for training, reportedly before 9-11.

Smith obtained internal company e-mails that reportedly show Goodrich is ordering slides from India. He believes the admission may help former Goodrich employees obtain extended benefits, like unemployment or special training. He will be presenting a petition to the Department of Labor.

Goodrich had denied the foreign production since June, but Christine Probett, president of the companies aircraft interior division said "We are evaluating production of a number of products in various locations, but no final decisions have been made for any permanent changes." She indicated the India production would be a small percentage of what had been produced in Spencer.

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