PITTSBURGH (Sept. 9, 2009)—The tentative deal between Goodyear and United Steelworkers will protect six of seven plants from closure and guarantee a minimum of $600 million in capital expenditures at those protected facilities over the next four years.
Voting on the contract—which, if ratified, will run to July 27, 2013—is expected to conclude by Sept. 18, the union said. To take effect, the pact must be approved by a majority of the membership and a majority of the plants.
While full details of the contract haven't been revealed, the USW said Sept. 8 that all the plants it represents in the Goodyear chain are protected from closure except the Union City, Tenn., site, which produces radial passenger and light truck tires and employs about 2,300 people. The company has not said it plans to close the factory, but could do so under the contract terms.
Also, if the Akron-based tire maker chooses to stop producing truck tires at its Goodyear-Dunlop plant in Buffalo, N.Y., it would offer buyouts to 200 workers there, the USW said. The Buffalo site also produces passenger, light truck, motorcycle and industrial tires, and employs about 1,100.
The $600 million capital investment figure is crucial for keeping the unionized Goodyear plants competitive, said USW Vice President Tom Conway. It also means not only job security for the union's members but a continuing commitment to the communities that support the facilities, he said.
Jim Allen, Goodyear chief negotiator, said the company is pleased to have reached an agreement that meets the company's bargaining goals and helps secure the future for its U.S. factories.
Other highlights of the pending contract include:
* A continued cost-of-living provision carried over from the 2006 contract;
* Wage and benefit improvements for hires made within the last three years, including two 50 cent-per-hour wage increases;
* A monthly pension multiplier increase to $58 per year of service for senior employees covered under the defined benefit plan choosing to retire under the new deal and a bump to $63 per year of service for those staying and accruing additional years; and
* A 3 percent company contribution for newer hires covered by a defined contribution pension plan.
The contract, if ratified, will cover more than 10,000 workers in Union City; Buffalo; Akron; Danville, Va.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Gadsden, Ala.; and Topeka, Kan.
More than 12,000 workers at 12 Goodyear North American plants went on strike in October 2006 in the middle of the contract negotiations season. The walkout lasted 86 days.
Bridgestone Americas Inc. continues to negotiate with the Steelworkers in Louisville, Ky. About 4,500 unionized employees at the company's seven tire and rubber product plants are working on a day-to-day extension.
Workers at Michelin North America Inc.'s BFGoodrich tire manufacturing plants in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., ratified a new three-year contract last month. That pact covers about 2,500 workers at the two sites but not unionized employees at the BFG plant in Opelika, Ala., plant, which is slated to close Oct. 31.