RICHBURG, S.C., March 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today denounced Giti Tire for misspending millions in COVID-19 stimulus funds and demanded that the corporation begin honoring its promises to the people of Chester County, South Carolina.
A new report from watchdog groups revealed that Giti, part of a global tire conglomerate, improperly took nearly $10 million from a federal program intended to help small, independent businesses keep workers employed during the pandemic. After pocketing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, Giti still threw an estimated 100 workers out of their jobs.
"Giti's abuse of pandemic aid is appalling, though not surprising," said USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo, who represents Steelworkers in South Carolina, six other southern states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"This company betrayed the public trust long before COVID-19," he explained. "Giti accepted $60 million in tax breaks to build a plant and then broke its promise to create 1,700 jobs for the community. Giti never came close to that number, and when the pandemic hit, Giti permanently laid off many of the workers it did have despite taking the PPP funds."
Ray Durmon, one of the workers cut by Giti during the pandemic, struggled for months to make ends meet before moving to Nebraska for a new job.
"I had to sell off almost everything I had just so I could afford to move," recalled Durmon, who worked at Giti for four years. "I sold my pool. I sold my storage building. I sold my tractor."
Giti continues to reap tax breaks for broken commitments even as the people of Chester County struggle to finance capital improvements to their schools.
"It's time for Giti to begin acting responsibly," Flippo said. "That means not only creating the jobs it promised but paying family-sustaining wages and giving back to the community."
To learn more about Giti's broken promises, click here.The USW is one of the largest unions in South Carolina. Nationwide, 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.