SALEM, Va.—United Steelworkers Local 1023 in Salem will vote June 1 and 2 to ratify a tentative labor agreement reached with Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Virginia L.L.C. on May 16.
Local 1023 President Steve Jones confirmed the tentative deal and the polling dates. The two sides agreed to a contract on May 16, minutes before the previous deal was set to expire.
If passed, the contract would run through May 16, 2018. According to a summary of the tentative agreement on Local 1023's website, the unit of Yokohama Tire Corp. promised not to close the plant for the life of the pact.
“We had the authorization to strike if need be, if it came to that,” Jones said. “It was to the point where it was hard to say. We were prepared, let me just put it that way, if we didn't feel we'd get a fair contract.”
Jones declined to comment on specifics until the union voted on the agreement but confirmed that the negotiating committee recommended that members ratify it. He said the plant consists of about 750 active union members.
Agreement meetings were scheduled for the week of May 26 with the polls to close at 6:30 p.m. on June 2, according to Jones.
Jones said the bargaining followed the USW's concept of pattern bargaining, which began last year with the ratification of deals with the three largest tire makers: Goodyear, Michelin North America Inc.'s BF Goodrich subsidiary and Bridgestone Americas Inc.
“I think it was a positive and fair contract for both sides,” Jones said. “Here at Yokohama, our guys work hard and efficiently. I think we were able to get a fair contract that everybody should be happy with.”
In its summary of the tentative agreement, the union identified pension and medical benefit issues as central issues. The USW said Yokohama sought to eliminate pensions for all newly hired employees in addition to eliminating double disability supplemental payments for everyone.
The union said it maintained both its current pension plan and double disability pension supplements “as is” for all employees. In addition, the USW secured an increase in the multiplier to $57 per month per year of service for employees retiring on or after June 1, 2014.