PITTSBURGH—Members of the United Steelworkers union approved one contract with one tire maker and rejected another with a second tire maker.
USW members ratified a four-year contract by a 2-to-1 margin with Bridgestone America's Inc. Firestone plants covering 4,500 workers at sites in Akron; Des Moines, Iowa; Russellville, Ark.; LaVergne, Tenn.; Warren County, Tenn.; and Bloomington, Ill.
Meanwhile, workers at BF Goodrich plants in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Fort Wayne, Ind., rejected a proposed three-year contract. The USW and Michelin North America Inc.'s BF Goodrich tire unit will resume negotiations for 2,400 workers on Aug. 14 in Knoxville, Tenn.
USW international secretary treasurer Stan Johnson said the contract with Bridgestone-Firestone "represents a significant step forward." He added the contract provides wage and pension improvements, protects health care coverage and made substantial gains for those hired in recent years.
The USW said the new agreement provides a signing bonus and general wage increases for all employees in addition to improvements to the wage tier and benefit systems for new hires. It also increased pension contributions and protected retiree health care benefits.
The union and the tire company reached agreement in late July on a new collective bargaining agreement after several months of talks.
"We made sacrifices in the past when the company needed us to make them," said Randy Boulton, Bridgestone-Firestone coordinator for the USW. "Now, with significant investments being made in the workers and in the plants, we're looking forward to a prosperous future."