Monday, September 21, 2009

Steelworkers Ratify Goodyear Agreement

September 19, 2009

Pittsburgh – The United Steelworkers (USW) today announced that a new four-year Agreement covering some 10,300 USW members at seven Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plants has been ratified by secret ballot rank & file referendum vote concluded last night.

The voting took place at the various plant locations after the membership had an opportunity to review a printed contract summary and attend informational meetings.

“The contract was approved by an overwhelming majority of the membership and a majority of the plants,” said Kevin Johnsen, USW contract coordinator during negotiations.

The previous labor agreement expired July 18 and was twice extended before the settlement was reached. The new agreement takes effect Sept. 21.

The union’s priorities were job and plant security and continuing good, affordable health care for its members.

“During this difficult economic period, this contract gives our members job security for the next four years,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

The agreement protects six out of the seven plants from closure during the term of the agreement and provides for minimum staffing levels. It also provides for a commitment by Goodyear to invest $600 million in capital expenditures in the plants, keeping them up to date and globally competitive.

The protected plants include: Akron, Ohio; Gadsden, Ala.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Topeka, Kan.; Danville, Va., and Fayetteville, N.C.

During the recent market downturn, the plant in Union City, Tenn., had been severely impacted by the deluge of cheap tires from China. A local agreement negotiated in April provided for up to 600 workers to receive buy-outs.

New Protection for U.S. Workers

USW International President Tom Conway, chairman of the Goodyear bargaining committee, helped lead the union’s successful fight to protect USW tire jobs by preparing the Section 421 case against the imported tires and providing convincing testimony on numerous occasions to support the case.

“There never was any doubt that the Chinese tire imports have injured domestic production workers,” Conway said. “We’ve had six tire plants employing 7,000 workers shut down because of the tire import surge from China.”

President Obama stood up for American workers and American manufacturing last week when he imposed tariffs on Chinese consumer tires for a period of three years. The action is fully consistent with our country’s WTO obligations during import surges that threaten an industry.

“We are optimistic that the step taken by the President will provide real, effective relief,” Conway said.

The Union City plant is one of the plants that stand to benefit from President Obama’s action if the market returns to previous demand.

The Goodyear plant in Tyler, Texas is one of the plants closed more than a year ago, a victim of the cheap, imported tires from China.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More on tentative Goodyear-USW contract

MTD - September 8, 2009

The United Steelworkers (USW) union has released more details about the tentative master contract with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. that is expected to be ratified by Sept. 18. The agreement covers 10,300 union members at seven Goodyear plants.

"Our priorities were to protect our plants and our jobs while maintaining good, affordable health care in a difficult economic climate," says USW International Vice President Tom Conway.

The agreement, according to the USW, requires Goodyear to invest at least $600 million in capital expenditures to maintain its factories "with state-of-the-art equipment." The agreement also protects six plants against closure: Akron, Ohio; Gadsden, Ala.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Topeka, Kan.; Danville, Va.; and Fayetteville, N.C.

Other provisions include:
* "separation allowance buyouts" for employees at Goodyear's Buffalo factory "in the event the company decides to no longer produce truck tires" there.
* "wage and benefit improvements" for employees hired after Oct. 1, 2006, including two 50-cents-an-hour increases and additional vacation time designed "to bring them closer to the levels of senior employees. They also will be eligible to receive accident and sickness benefits, vision care (and) improved life insurance coverage."
* multiplier increases for senior employees who retire during the duration of the new agreement.

The contract must be approved "by a majority of the membership and a majority of the plants," according to USW officials.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Goodyear plans to appeal against job-cutting plan rejection

French Business Digest - August 31, 2009

US tyre maker Goodyear (NYSE:GT) announced that it may appeal against the court ruling which blocked its new restructuring plan for the site of Amiens Nord, northern France.

The plan, recently suspended by the French court of Nanterre, included 820 job cuts out of a total 1,400 staff.

Trade union CGT had referred the job-trimming decision to the court, which said that the plan was incomplete, particularly regarding the future of the production of agricultural tyres.
In November 2008, the court rejected an earlier restructuring plan by Goodyear, which envisaged 402 job cuts. The group's management had appealed against the ruling and was granted the possibility to present a new plan.

Trade unions are urging the management to open talks on the industrial future of the facility.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Goodyear, Steelworkers reach deal on contract

Associated Press, August 30, 2009

CLEVELAND — Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the United Steelworkers of America reached a tentative national contract agreement Saturday night.

The union and company said the agreement was reached about three hours before a midnight Saturday deadline neared for the expiration of the old contract, which had been extended twice.

Rank-and-file members will be briefed on the deal and take a ratification vote.

Wayne Ranick, a spokesman with the union headquarters in Pittsburgh, said the deal was for four years.

The talks, which began in June with the national recession as a backdrop, covered about 10,300 Steelworkers at seven Goodyear plants in the U.S.

The Steelworkers had made job security their top priority in talks covering workers in Akron, Ohio; Buffalo, N.Y.; Danville, Va.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Gadsden, Ala.; Topeka, Kan., and Union City, Tenn.

The goals of the Akron-based company were improved productivity and flexibility.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Goodyear, USW continue to talk

Gadsden Times, August 24, 2009

Workers at two BFGoodrich plants have ratified a new three-year contract as the United Steelworkers continue contract talks with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone.

Members of the United Steelworkers Local 351 in Tuscaloosa and the local in Fort Wayne, Ind., approved the contract by a 5-to-1 margin, according to Jimmy Price, president of Local 351. The contract covers about 2,500 workers at the plants.

Price, who was on the union's bargaining committee, said he felt BFGoodrich was "very responsible to give a fair contract."

A key concern for the union was job security. BFGoodrich has moved to close some of its plants, including its Opelika tire plant, which will shut down permanently in October.

That plant had about 1,000 workers when BFGoodrich announced its closing this year.

Bren Riley, vice president of USW Local 12, which represents workers at the Gadsden Goodyear plant, said the agreement reached between the USW and BFGoodrich could have an impact on the Goodyear negotiations going on in Cincinnati.

After two extensions, the Goodyear contract will expire at 10:59 p.m. Saturday.

However, Ed Markey, Goodyear's vice president for public relations and communications in North America, said the agreement will not affect the company's negotiations.

"Our discussions continue

to proceed in Cincinnati, both sides being very professional about it. We remain optimistic that we'll reach an agreement," Markey said.

A spokesman for Bridgestone/Firestone told the Akron Beacon Journal the BFGoodrich agreement would not impact its talks because each company is unique.

The USW talks were going on with the three companies in three different locations, and Riley said the union traditionally has used an agreement reached with one company as a "pattern" for agreements with other tire makers.

This year, Riley said, union officials chose to have talks with all companies at the same time, rather than selecting a "target company" to negotiate with. When one got close to an agreement, the union then would put its resources into those negotiations.

"Then they would come together and talk about that agreement and vote whether to accept that as pattern-setting or not," Riley said.

He said the BFGoodrich agreement could be used as a pattern, but he did not know that for sure.

Riley didn't have any specific information about the BFGoodrich agreement.

"I don't know what they've got," he said.

The USW talks with Goodyear began June 8. The current contract ended July 18, but the company and union agreed to a 28-day extension and then a second, 14-day extension that ends Saturday.

A strike in 2006 lasted for three months.

The Goodyear-USW contract covers about 10,300 Goodyear associates in the U.S., including plants in Gadsden; Akron, Ohio; Buffalo, N.Y.; Danville, Va.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Topeka, Kan.; and Union City, Tenn.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Goodyear, union agree to extension

The Gadsden Times, August 12, 2009
For the second time, the contract between the United Steelworkers and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has been extended — this time for 14 days, according to company and union officials.

The contract had been set to expire at 10:59 p.m. CDT Saturday. With the extension, the contract now will expire at 10:59 p.m. CDT on Aug. 29.

The talks continue in Cincinnati.

“We have made progress on some of the significant issues,” said Jim Allen, Goodyear’s chief negotiator. “We recognize that we need the additional time to work through the remaining issues, and we remain confident that a satisfactory agreement will be reached.”

A statement by the union on its Web site said “sufficient movement over the past two weeks prompted both sides to agree to the extension, as an agreement could not be reached by the August 15, 2009, deadline.”

Contract talks began June 8.

The contract covers approximately 10,300 Goodyear associates in the U.S., including plants in Gadsden; Akron, Ohio; Buffalo, N.Y.; Danville, Va.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Topeka, Kan.; and Union City, Tenn.

United Steelworkers Local 12 Vice President Bren Riley said Wednesday afternoon he was informed of the extension by USW Local 12 President David Hayes, who is participating in the contract talks.

Riley said he was encouraged by the extension and said it shows “both sides think there is an agreement out there.”

Goodyear has said key issues in the new contract are productivity and flexibility and pensions and benefit issues.

Hayes said in April that key issues for the union would be job security, improving wages and benefits and improving the wages of new hires at the plant.

During the last contract talks in 2006, the contract was scheduled to end in July but was extended on a day-to-day basis. Talks continued until October, when the union went out on strike for almost three months before an agreement was reached in late December.

According to the USW Web site concerning the contract talks, votes have been completed at all locals with 98.5 percent of the membership authorizing a strike if necessary.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Goodyear To Close Philippines Tire Plant, To Cut 500 Jobs - Update

RTT News, July 17, 2009

Friday, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT: News ) said it will close its tire plant in the Philippines, citing higher costs, which will resulting in a reduction of approximately 500 . of the company's 600 associates in the country. The company also said it expects to record a closure-related charge in the third quarter. The action, as part of a strategy to address uncompetitive manufacturing capacity globally, is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter.

The company noted that its sales and marketing operations in the country are not affected.

The Akron, Ohio-based tire manufacturer said that the closure of the plant in Las Pinas will result in the reduction of nearly two million units of annual production capacity. Goodyear's strategy is to remove 15 million to 25 million units of capacity over the next two years. Production will be transferred to lower-cost plants in the company's Asia-Pacific Region. In Philippines, Goodyear has had a presence since 1919, and the Las Pinas plant was opened in 1956.

In addition, the company said it plans to record approximately $20 million in charges associated with the closure in the third quarter of 2009, principally for non-cash asset write offs.

Pierre Cohade, president of Goodyear's Asia-Pacific Region, stated, "Due to high costs compared to other plants in the region, tires produced in the Las Pinas plant are not competitive in the marketplace. Goodyear is committed to its business in the Philippines as well as continuous product innovation, and intends to maintain its market leadership through aggressive marketing, excellent customer service and superior products. This action will, in no way, disrupt our service to wholesale, retail and original equipment customers."

In late May, Goodyear had said that it would discontinue consumer tire production at a plant in Amiens, France, which would result in reducing about 820 jobs, as part of its strategy to reduce high-cost manufacturing capacity. The closure was due to the plant's uncompetitive costs. The production cease would result in reduction of about 6 million units of production.

While, in June, Goodyear announced that it would move its consumer tire plant in Union City, from a continuous operating schedule to a five-day, three-shift operation on July 6. The Union City plant can produce about 12 million consumer tires a year for the original equipment and replacement markets and currently employs about 2,300 associates.