AKRON (Dec. 29) — The United Steelworkers is heralding a number of achievements secured in its new three-year contract with Goodyear despite losing protection of the Tyler, Texas, plant.
"It´s a bittersweet outcome," said Kevin Johnson, USW-Goodyear contract coordinator. "We wanted to win Tyler protected status like the other plants, but we only got it for 2007. Still, the company has committed to building the Tyler ticket in USW plants as long as the company stays in those markets."
That means, the union said, Goodyear will be prevented from outsourcing work performed at the plant or servicing the market segment with imports. Tyler produces primarily small-diameter passenger tires, a segment that is under pressure from low-cost imports.
Goodyear agreed to invest $550 million in capital expenditures in other plants. The remaining 11 U.S. plants affected by the strike won protected status.
Other positives the union is highlighting in the contract include the voluntary employees´ beneficiary association – VEBA — which will secure medical and prescription drug benefits for current and future retirees with a $1 billion contribution from the company.
Future contributions to the VEBA will come from diverted COLA — cost-of-living allowance — payments and profit-sharing funds. Goodyear agreed to profit sharing of up to $25 million in 2009 and up to $30 million in 2010.
COLA will continue to be calculated to pay one cent per hour for each full 0.26-point change in the consumer price index, the union said. COLA payments will be divided among the VEBA, workers´ hourly wages and quarterly lump-sum payments.
Affordable medical and prescription drug coverage for active and retired membership also was maintained, the union said.
The USW also said temporary replacement workers will be out of the plants before union workers return.