LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 20, 2009)—Michelin North America Inc. and the United Steelworkers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for workers at the company's BFGoodrich tire manufacturing plants.
The two sides reached accord in Lexington early on the morning of Aug. 15, not long after a midnight deadline had been extended 24 hours, and signed the agreement later in the day. Spokespeople for Michelin and the Steelworkers provided few details pending ratification of the contract, but a company spokeswoman did confirm the tentative pact is for three years.
The agreement was examined by the executive boards of the affected locals—USW Local 351L in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Local 715L in Fort Wayne, Ind.—during the week of Aug. 17, with the voting dates for members to be decided later, a union spokesman said.
A committee made up of USW members representing workers at not only Michelin but also Goodyear and Bridgestone Americas Inc. sites was to review the agreement during the week as well, according to a USW Web site.
A third unionized BFG tire plant in Opelika, Ala., is scheduled to close in the fall. Michelin and the Steelworkers reached a closure agreement for members of Local 753L in Opelika several months ago, the spokeswoman said.
The original three-year contract covering about 3,200 workers at the three BFG plants expired July 18, then was extended another four weeks. If ratified, the new deal will cover about 2,500 workers at the two remaining sites.
Earlier in the bargaining season, which began in June, Greenville, S.C.-based Michelin said its goals for a contract included improving plant flexibility and competitiveness, addressing health care costs and maintaining its ability to respond immediately to demand fluctuations. This agreement meets the terms the company believes are necessary to retain its competitive posture and help improve the viability of the BFG plants, Michelin said.
The USW has said the main issues on the table include job security and plant protection, investments at organized facilities, active and retiree health care benefits and costs, tiered wage scales, pensions, worker incentives, and health and safety.
Last week, Goodyear and the USW extended their contract a second time to Aug. 29 while negotiations continued in Cincinnati. Bridgestone Americas Inc. extended its contract with the Steelworkers on a day-to-day basis, with a five-day notice required to terminate. BFS/USW talks are taking place in Louisville, Ky.
The original three-year Goodyear and Bridgestone contracts lapsed July 18 as well. The Goodyear contract covers about 11,500 workers at seven manufacturing sites, while the Bridgestone pacts—which include separate deals for tire plants in Bloomington, Ill., and Warren County, Tenn.—cover about 4,500 workers at seven tire and rubber product facilities.