PITTSBURGH—The United Steelworkers union voted to ratify a new three-year labor contract with Michelin's two BF Goodrich sites.
The deal covers about 2,500 workers at plants in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Fort Wayne, Ind. The agreement passed by a two-to-one margin and, according to an Aug. 17 USW news release, includes annual wage increases and bonuses, maintains quality, affordable health care coverage and strengthens retirement benefits.
The previous agreement expired on July 27, while the new deal will run through July 30, 2022.
"I think it's a fair deal for the workers and a fair deal for the company," said Kevin Johnsen, chair of the USW's Rubber/Plastic Industry Council.
"I think we accomplished most of our goals. You always want more in a lot of areas, but all-in-all it was a good deal."
A Michelin spokesman said in a statement that the company "is pleased with the ratification and remains focused on maintaining the long-term competitiveness of these sites."
According to a summary of the contract, Level 1 new tier employees will receive a $1.36 per hour increase, Level 2 new tier employees will receive a $1.39 per hour increase. Levels 3-5 new tier and Levels 3-5 technical maintenance will receive an 80 cents per hour increase on the first pay period following ratification.
"That was extremely important to the membership going into these negotiations," Johnsen said of securing increases. "That was one of the highest priorities we had."
Cost of living allowance continues to have a guaranteed minimum and maximum during the life of the agreement. According to the summary, the floor is 0.5 percent while the ceiling is 3 percent. All new tier employees, including those whose wage rates have caught up to the grandfathered employees, will have COLA increases incorporated into the life of the agreement.
The union also secured flat health care premiums for the year 2020 with small increases in 2021 and 2022 in line with other union contracts and, according to the summary, "less than the more drastic increases (Michelin) wanted."
There also will be no changes to the coinsurance on prescription drugs with the minimums and maximums staying the same under the prior contract.
"I think we maintained very, very good health care for our members," Johnsen said.
The new deal puts the Michelin plants on the same cycle as the Goodyear, Bridgestone and Sumitomo deals—which cover 12 U.S. sites—and are set to expire in July of 2022 as well.
In February, the USW ratified two four-year agreements with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. sites in Texarkana, Ark., and Clarksdale, Miss. The agreement with Local 752 in Texarkana covers about 1,440 unionized employees and was ratified on Jan. 30. Local 556 at the Clarksdale site, which makes bladders and does mixing, according to information on Cooper Tire's website, ratified its deal that covers about 40 unionized employees in February.
The union also will negotiate a new deal with Cooper Tire's Findlay, Ohio, plant represented by Local 207 early next year. The contract runs through February.
Overall, the USW said it represents more than 18,000 workers in the tire industry.
"We traditionally do three-year agreements with BF Goodrich," Johnsen said. "We have done four- or five-year agreements with Bridgestone/Firestone and Goodyear, but we traditionally have done three-year agreements with BF Goodrich. That's just kind of the way it works out."