SALEM, Va.—Yokohama Tire Corp. and the United Steelworkers of America have a new pact for the company´s Salem tire plant that provides job security into 2007, maintains a cost-of-living allowance and increases the pension benefit.
Members of USWA Local 1023 ratified the contract Jan. 29 by a 3-1 margin, said local President Mike Amos. About 80 percent of the local´s 670-plus members voted in the election.
The deal runs through April 15, 2007, with the terms retroactive to June 4, 2003. Yokohama and the Steelworkers reached a tentative contract agreement Jan. 15.
The pact includes no-plant-closure language, an important issue for the Steelworkers because of the tenuous economic conditions in the tire industry and the increase of tire imports, as well as some recent history. In the Goodyear/USWA master contract ratified in September 2003, the bulk of the company´s tire facilities received protection from shutdown, but its Goodyear Dunlop factory in Huntsville, Ala., closed, affecting about 1,300 workers.
Bridgestone/Firestone also shut its Decatur, Ill., tire plant in 2001 in the wake of the Firestone/Ford recalls, only about a year after completing its 2000 contract with the Steelworkers.
The Yokohama contract also includes the restoration of 95 cents per hour in cost-of-living-adjustment payments, with 60 cents being diverted to health care costs for active members and retirees, Amos said. The deal calls for no weekly health care premiums for union members, he said.
The pension multiplier also is being raised to $53 per month per year of service from $50 effective July 1 for employees retiring on or after June 23, 2003.
Yokohama didn´t provide details on the agreement, but Steve Kessing, the company´s vice president of administration, said the tire maker is pleased with the agreement and that it was resolved amicably.
The negotiations on the deal started Sept. 13 and ended Jan. 15, Amos said. The previous six-year pact between Yokohama and Local 1023 expired in June 2003, but talks between the two sides were put on hold while bargaining took place between the union and the other major tire makers.
That´s the main reason the union wanted to delay its lapse date until after those of the larger tire makers, such as Goodyear and Michelin North America Inc., whose contracts expire in 2006, Amos said. The union traditionally chooses a bargaining target—as it did with Goodyear in 2003—with which to work out a contract that serves as a pattern for the rest of the tire industry. "We can´t get anything done until they do something," Amos said. "We might as well get out of the way."
Workers at the Salem plant—which produces passenger, high-performance and light truck tires—were on contract extensions during bargaining.
In addition to the Goodyear deal, the Steelworkers reached terms with Michelin and its BFGoodrich tire manufacturing unit in August. Both agreements lapse July 22, 2006.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. also worked out a contract with the USWA at its Findlay, Ohio, tire factory in February 2004. That agreement expires Oct. 31, 2008.
Negotiations for a new deal continue between BFS and the USWA. Like the Yokohama workers, hourly employees at eight BFS tire and rubber plants have been on extension since their contracts expired in April 2003.