PITTSBURGH (April 16) — Union workers at eight Bridgestone/Firestone tire and rubber plants are considering new three-year contract agreements with the company that will preserve cost-of-living allowances and health care provisions and boost pension benefits.
BFS and the United Steelworkers union announced April 4 their bargaining committees had reached tentative agreements on a master contract covering workers at four tire manufacturing sites, a tube plant and an air spring facility.
The master contract, which runs through July 18, 2009, includes workers in Oklahoma City, where BFS halted tire production at the facility there at the end of 2006. Provisions in the tentative deal include contractual benefits and life insurance coverage for workers with between 23 and 30 years of experience via a $23 million fund, according to information from a contract summary.
Bargaining also covered separate contracts for hourly workers at tire plants in Warren County, Tenn., and Bloomington, Ill., and a maintenance group in LaVergne, Tenn.
The contracts cover about 6,000 workers at the various BFS sites. Ratification votes are expected to be completed by April 25.
Highlights of the tentative deal, according to the summary, includes protection from closure for three plants — Warren County, LaVergne and Des Moines, Iowa — over the length of the pact; investment of $100 million by BFS at the protected plants; a five-tier wage structure for new employees at each site, resulting in a 17-percent reduction from existing wages; wage-rate protection for current employees; 90-percent job security for current employees; increase of the monthly pension multiplier to $56 per year of service; and diversion of first $1 of COLA to help defray retiree medical costs.
Workers at Yokohama Tire Corp.´s Salem, Va., tire plant also are waiting to work out a new deal with the company. The three-year contract there expired April 15, but bargaining may ramp up as the BFS negotiations draw to a conclusion.