FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ryan Rudominer, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 6, 2022
Richburg, South Carolina – Clinton College’s Dr. Lafarah Frazier will present findings from her groundbreaking new report on workplace injustices at Giti Tire Manufacturing (USA) at tonight’s Chester County Council meeting.
The report, which is based on testimony from current and past Giti workers, alleges a series of instances in which workers were mistreated on the job, including “mandatory overtime, unsafe work practices, occupational segregation by gender, and the basic lack of respect for human decency.”
Clinton College, a renowned historically black Christian college in Rock Hill, SC, held a June 11th hearing in conjunction with the Catawba Area Workers’ Rights Board to provide Giti workers a forum to share their experiences.
“I produced this report detailing the abuses experienced by Giti plant workers because far too often, such incidents of inequality and injustice in the workplace go unheard by the public,” said Dr. Lafarah Frazier, DrPH.
“It’s an especially serious problem in communities where vulnerable groups are historically marginalized and exploited for their labor. In Chester County, where the Giti facility is located, workers earn a quarter less than the average South Carolinian and are far more likely to fall below the poverty line. As is too often the case, lower-income workers are typically denied a voice in creating a safe and healthy workplace.”
Giti Tire’s North American manufacturing facility – located in Chester County, SC – is part of Singapore-based Giti Tire Group, one of the largest tire companies in the world, with annual earnings of $2.5 billion.
State and local governments additionally provided tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks to support Giti’s operations. Still, the company created only a few hundred of the 1,700 jobs it promised. Instead of hiring adequate numbers of people, Giti forced workers into excessive overtime to keep the plant operating. Since 2019, the number of jobs at Giti Tire has dropped by more than 1/5th.
Added Sherry East, WRB Panelist and President of The South Carolina Education Association, “As an educator, I see firsthand the impact these deals have on our children and our schools. This is why we recommend that the County Council use its authority to ensure that Giti is on pace to hire the workers they committed to hiring.”
Many of the complaints listed in the report have been shared with Giti management, including Phang Wai Yeen, Chief Executive Officer of Giti Tire Manufacturing (USA) Ltd. However, they’ve been met by silence from the company.
The report outlines the following recommendations on behalf of the Coalition for Giti Worker Justice, the South Carolina Poor People’s Campaign, and the Catawba Area Workers’ Rights Board to management, workers, Chester County, and the state of South Carolina.
Recommendations to Giti Management
- Giti management should begin respecting the workers’ freedom of association and the freedom to organize a union.
- Giti should also sign a neutrality agreement and refrain from disparaging the union or discouraging unionization efforts.
Recommendations to Workers
- Giti workers should continue their struggle towards achieving their union.
- Workers should also strive to make greater connections with each other, inviting their co-workers to share their testimonies of similar struggles concerning workplace bullying, prejudice, discrimination, unfairness, and inequality and joining their voices together to collectively bargain for better wages and safer working conditions.
Recommendations to Chester County and the state of South Carolina
- South Carolina state legislators should require counties to disclose deal-specific and company-specific performance reports on every project for the life of its tax abatement. This includes recommendations for a neutral review of the Giti deal to ensure that jobs of sufficient quantity and quality are created and maintained.
- Chester County and the state should establish a citizen’s review board that extends beyond Giti Tire so workers not represented by a union can address their concerns to a municipal body — similar to the independent agencies that have become a part of law enforcement.
- Any deal in Chester County should include a payment equal to 20% of a company’s tax abatement from the county and should be allocated to the county school district from the new tax revenue generated by the company.