Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire said Thursday it has decided to close its Oklahoma City tire plant at the end of 2006.The 1,400 employees at the plant were told of the potential plant closure in April. Following that announcement, BFNT and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union met to discuss alternatives to closure of the plant. During those discussions the two sides were not able to come to any resolutions regarding BFNT’s claims that the plant is not competitive in the global marketplace and is suffering substantial ongoing losses. "The reality is this plant produces tires in the low-end segment of the market where demand is shrinking and fierce competition from low-cost producing countries is increasing," said Steve Brooks, vice president of manufacturing operations for BFNT, in a statement released by the company. "Even with substantial new investment, global market forces make it virtually impossible to restore the plant to a competitive position and stem the huge losses. This decision was made only after serious consideration of our alternatives. We met with the union but we were unable to come up with a solution to make the plant globally competitive,” Brooks said. “It’s unfortunate because our teammates have worked hard and the government leaders in Oklahoma have been extremely supportive.” The terms of the closure will be negotiated with the USW and follow-up meetings are now being held with plant management.