KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 3) — Workers at three Michelin North America Inc. BFGoodrich tire plants are voting this week on a master contract proposal that includes job security and retiree health care language, two big goals for the United Steelworkers this year in tire negotiations.
The language in the BFGoodrich tentative pact includes guarantees of no plant closures or layoffs at the three plants; staffing levels of at least 90 percent for regular full-time workers and 100 percent for technical maintenance workers; and minimum capital investments of $100 million toward the production of larger, higher-margin branded tires, according to a contract summary.
An exception to BFG´s commitments is the production reduction of mass-market passenger tires in Opelika, which was announced June 11. Between 30 and 40 percent of the 1,300-person work force at the site will be laid off indefinitely beginning in the fourth quarter.
Layoffs also could occur during the life of the pact with inventory adjustments, though all three plants also will have 90-percent ticket protection, the summary said.
For retirees, the proposed contract includes continuance of coverage by the Comprehensive Health Care Plan, with a $300 deductible and a 90-percent coinsurance level. BFG agreed to contribute $27 million to retiree health care during the agreement, while active workers agreed to divert the first $1 of future cost-of-living adjustments to a retiree trust fund, the contract summary said.
Other highlights of the contract, if ratified, include a new five-level wage structure; a new 48-month wage progression scale; a pension multiplier increase to $57 for every year of service per month, up from $54; and no changes to the COLA formula.
About 3,400 workers at three BFG tire plants in Opelika and Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Fort Wayne, Ind., voted during the week of July 31 on a new three-year contract that would run from July 23 of this year through July 18, 2009.
Results of the votes likely won´t be available until the Aug. 5 weekend, a USW spokesman said. A "majority of the majority" is required for contract ratification, meaning 50 percent plus one vote overall of the members and two of the three locals must vote to accept the agreement for it to become a contract.