CINCINNATI (June 21) — Initial proposals from Goodyear in its master contract talks with the United Steelworkers include no protection from closure for three of its tire plants, according to a USW Web site.
Representatives for Goodyear and the union began 2006 negotiations June 9 in Cincinnati, and the information exchanged during the first meetings show "huge differences" in bargaining expectations, the USW said. In the company's initial proposal, tire plants in Gadsden, Ala.; Union City, Tenn.; and Tyler, Texas, would not have protection from closure during the life of the contract.
The Tyler plant received only partial protection from closure during the current contract — which began in 2003 and expires July 22 — but the Gadsden and Union City sites had full protection. Goodyear closed its Huntsville, Ala., tire plant at the end of 2003.
Those three plants also could be affected by Goodyear´s decision to reduce its North American production of private label tires. The company announced today that over the next 12 months it would cut production of up to 10 private label brands representing about $300 million in annual sales to focus on more profitable segments of its business.
In addition to the Gadsden, Union City, and Tyler sites, Goodyear´s Fayetteville, N.C., and Valleyfield, Quebec, tire plants could face cuts as well. The Fayetteville workers are covered in the master contract, and the USW represents workers in Valleyfield as well.
The Goodyear master contract covers about 12,600 employees at 12 tire and rubber product plants in the U.S.
Talks also have begun between the USW and negotiators for Michelin North America Inc.´s BFGoodrich tire manufacturing unit and Bridgestone/Firestone.
Representatives for the union and BFG met for the first time June 8 in Knoxville, Tenn. The union was scheduled to present its initial proposals to BFG negotiators on June 21, a USW spokesman said. Their pact, which also expires July 22, covers about 3,400 employees at three plants.
BFS and the USW opened contract discussions July 14 in St. Louis, and the two sides planned to exchange proposals June 21. Agreements between BFS and the USW include a master contract covering six tire and rubber product plants and separate deals with workers at the company´s Bloomington, Ill., and Warren County, Tenn., tire facilities.
The pacts expire July 23 and cover about 6,000 workers.