AKRON—Goodyear plans to cut about 700 employees from its ranks through buyout plans at plants in Union City, Tenn., and Akron.
About 575 members of the United Steelworkers in Union City have accepted the firm's buyout offer while union employees at Goodyear's Akron race tire facility approved a proposal that will eliminate 120 jobs from a work force of about 440. A mixing operation in Akron also could be moved to Buffalo, N.Y., within the next two years, a union official said.
In addition, following an agreement with the USW, the Union City factory moved from protected to unprotected status, making it easier for the company to close the factory if it so chooses.
The cuts are part of a Goodyear plan, announced in February, to reduce the firm's work force by about 5,000 worldwide in 2009, a company spokeswoman said. As of March 31, the tire maker had eliminated 3,800 jobs globally.
Earlier this year, the firm cut 225 jobs through buyouts and layoffs at its Topeka, Kan., facility and almost 400 at its Danville, Va., factory. In December 2008, Goodyear's Buffalo factory trimmed 150 people and moved from a continuous schedule to a five-day, eight-hour workweek.
Of the 575 employees accepting buyouts at the Union City factory, which has a work force of about 2,350 employees, 521 are active and 54 are inactive, according to Willis Hicks, recording secretary and action team coordinator for USW Local 878, which represents workers at the facility.
The company hasn't finalized the exact number of workers taking the buyout, the spokeswoman said. “We hope to have that completed in the next several days. We anticipate the majority of associates will leave by the end of the third quarter. At this time, we do not anticipate reductions beyond those who applied for the buyout in phase one.”
Under the Union City plan, those accepting buyouts will receive $3,000 for each year of service with no cap, Hicks said. A special retirement provision allows workers between the ages of 53 and 55 with at least 28 years with the company to receive unemployment benefits until they can retire from Goodyear.
Two other phases tentatively are planned at the facility, the spokeswoman said. Phase two calls for additional work force reductions, and phase three could lead to closure of the factory if industry conditions dictate.
“We're hoping this (the buyouts) will be the end of it, the economy will turn around and we can keep the plant open,” Hicks said. “We want it here for years to come.”
Goodyear plans to switch to a five-day, eight-hour shift schedule from a seven-day, 12-hour schedule at the Union City facility on July 6, the spokeswoman said.
Workers in Akron have 14 days to make a decision on whether or not they will take buyouts, according to Rick Nixon, recording secretary for USW Local 2L. Members voted unanimously June 9 to accept Goodyear's buyout offer, he said.
Under the approved plan, union members are slated to receive $2,000 for every year of service up to 20 years, he said.
There's a possibility the mixing center in Akron will relocate to Buffalo within the next two years, according to Nixon, but a determination on that won't be made by Goodyear until later. About 60 people work at the facility.
Goodyear declined comment on the specifics of the agreement in Akron.