TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—There will be labor peace at two Michelin/BFGoodrich plants for another three years.
The United Steelworkers union ratified a master contract by a vote of 1,034 to 741, establishing a new labor agreement through July 27, 2019, with facilities represented by Local 351 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Local 715 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Michelin and the union reached the agreement Aug. 2, and voting was finalized Aug. 17, according to a summary posted on Local 351's website. The USW described the deal as “fair and equitable” in its summary.
Michelin said in an emailed statement that it is “pleased this agreement was reached in a very challenging market environment,” adding that the contract covers about 2,400 employees spanning both facilities.
“We believe this is a fair contract for our employees and are pleased at the very professional way negotiations were handled,” a Michelin spokesman said in an email. “Looking forward, we think this positions these plants well to compete in an international marketplace.”
The policy brings about the first general wage increase at the facilities in 16 years and only the second since COLA was implemented more than 40 years ago, according to Local 351's summary
Level 1 and 2 new tier employees will receive a $1 per hour increase in the first pay period following ratification, according to the summary. All new Tier Level 3, 4, 5 and technical maintenance will receive a 95 cents per hour increase spread out over the life of the contract—30 cents per hour in the first pay period following ratification, another 30 cents per hour in the first pay period of August 2017 and 35 cents per hour in the first pay period of August 2018.
“We all know cost of living allowances have been relatively flat for some time,” said Stan Johnson, USW international secretary treasurer. “We thought it was a good time to negotiate a GWI. COLA traditionally performs strongly in a strong economy. As we've had a flatter economic curve since 2008 and 2009, we thought it was appropriate to propose and negotiate a general wage increase in addition to improving the COLA.
“With the wage increases that are going in, we think we will have closed the gap on at least the three highest tiers by or before the end of the agreement, which will take the inequity in pay rates back out of that system.”