AKRON (Jan. 2) — Union workers who had been striking for nearly three months at 16 Goodyear production sites in the U.S. and Canada have begun returning to work, the Akron tire maker announced.
"Goodyear welcomes the return to work of our USW associates," said Jon Rich, president of Goodyear´s North American Tire business, in a statement. "I have no doubt our associates will quickly return to their normal high levels of performance and productivity."
Production at the affected tire and engineered products plants will ramp up over the next few weeks, the company said. Full supply of Goodyear products is expected to be available soon thereafter.
Goodyear workers represented by the United Steelworkers in the U.S. ratified a new three-year master contract with the company Dec. 28 after bargaining committees reached a tentative agreement Dec. 22. A Goodyear spokesman said union members at four plants in Canada also approved separate pacts last week.
About 15,000 USW members walked out at the company sites Oct. 5 after negotiators failed to reach accord on several issues, the most noteworthy being job and plant security and retiree health care. In the final master agreement affecting 12 U.S. plants, Goodyear agreed to protect 11 plants during the life of the contract yet planned to close its Tyler, Texas, plant after Dec. 31, 2007.
The company also agreed to provide $1 billion toward the creation of a Voluntary Employees´ Beneficiary Association trust fund to help pay retiree health care for current and future retires. Ongoing contributions to the fund will come via cost-of-living allowance and profit sharing diversions.