KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (July 26) — Michelin North America Inc.´s BFGoodrich tire manufacturing unit and the United Steelworkers have reached a tentative master contract agreement covering workers at three tire facilities.
Negotiators for the two sides reached accord at about 8:30 p.m. July 25, after the previous contract — which expired at midnight July 22 — had been extended twice.
The agreement meets the terms the company believes are necessary to retain its competitive posture and to help ensure the viability of the BFG plants going forward, the company said in a statement. Ron Hoover, USW vice president and head of the union´s Rubber/Plastics Industry Conference, said the union believes "we achieved our industry goals when it comes to protecting retiree health care benefits and securing additional job protection measures for our active members."
Both the USW and BFG said details of the tentative pact won´t be disclosed until the 3,400 members at the three sites — located in Tuscaloosa and Opelika, Ala. and Fort Wayne, Ind. — have reviewed and voted on it. A "majority of the majority" will be required for contract ratification, meaning 50 percent plus one vote overall and two of the three locals must vote to accept the tentative agreement for it to become contract.
Typically, informational meetings and ratification votes take place within two weeks of the announced tentative agreement.
BFG announced on June 11 it would reduce tire production at its Opelika plant by 30 to 40 percent beginning in the fourth quarter and indefinitely lay off 30 to 40 percent of the work force there.
The Steelworkers last month designated BFG as the target company in establishing a bargaining pattern in the tire industry. The USW also is negotiating master contracts — which also expired July 22 — at Goodyear and Bridgestone/Firestone.