Friday, December 29, 2006

Goodyear Strike Settled

Good news: The Steelworkers union voted to approve a new contract at Goodyear. Goodyear workers will be back at work on January 2nd. More than 10,000 members voted and the contract was approved by more than two-to-one. Both a majority of the locals and a majority of the overall membership voted to approve the new contract.


Solidarity at Goodyear has more. Here's the USW press release:
USW Members at Goodyear Ratify New Three-Year Contract as 86-day Strike Ends

All striking Steelworker to return beginning on January 2

(Pittsburgh, PA) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that a new contract at Goodyear Tire and Rubber was approved at all Locals and overall by membership by more than a two-to-one margin. More than 10,000 USW-represented members voted at the 12 locations where 14,000 Steelworkers struck on October 5. A majority of the majority principle applied meaning that a majority of the locals as well as a majority of the overall membership voted to accept the Tentative Agreement as the new contract.

"The credit really belongs to our members and their families, whose solidarity prevented the company from short-changing them, despite all of its attempts," said USW International president Leo W. Gerard. "Special thanks go out again to all of our AFL-CIO union affiliates, activist groups, community organizations, businesses and public officials who not only understood our struggle, but stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us."

"It took a strike, but we achieved a fair and equitable contract that protects quality health care for active and retired members," said USWA executive vice president Ron Hoover. "And by winning major capital investment expenditures, it secures our jobs for the future."

The new contract establishes a company-financed trust of more than $1 billion that will secure medical and prescription drug benefits for current and future retirees. Future contributions will include diverted COLA (cost of living allowances) payments and profit-sharing funds. Affordable, high quality medical and prescription drug coverage for its active and retired membership was also maintained.

"To secure jobs, we had to obtain enough money to keep our plants globally competitive," said USW International vice president Tom Conway. "The $550 million in new capital expenditure commitments is the result of our objective of enhancing the ability of USW-represented plants to meet the challenges of the international marketplace."

The new contract that requires Goodyear to rescind its demand for immediate closure of its Tyler, Texas plant, and provides for a one-year period of transition during which workers will have the opportunity to take advantage of sizeable retirement buyouts.

"It's a bittersweet outcome," said Kevin Johnsen, USW-Goodyear Contract Coordinator. "We wanted to win Tyler protected status like the other plants, but we only got it for 2007. Still the company has committed to building the Tyler ticket in USW-plants as long as the company stays in those markets." That commitment will prevent the company from outsourcing that work or servicing this market segment with imports.

The Tentative Agreement was endorsed by the USW's Goodyear Policy Committee, composed of local union leaders from the 12 facilities involved in the contract talks on December 22. Members were presented with a Summary of the Tentative Agreement at informational meetings held on December 27 and 28. The ratification votes also took place on Wednesday and Thursday.

The new contract covers tire and engineered product plants in: Akron, St. Marys and Marysville, Ohio; Gadsden, Ala.; Buffalo, New York; Lincoln, Nebraska; Topeka, Kansas; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Danville, Virginia; Tyler, Texas; Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; and, Union City, Tennessee.

Negotiations between the USW and Goodyear began in June of this year. With a contract expiration date of July 22, 2006 approaching, a day-to-day extension agreement was reached that gave both parties the option of terminating the agreement upon delivering 72-hour notice. Lack of progress in bargaining talks forced the USW to delivered notice on October 2 and 15,000 USW members in 16 plants throughout North America struck on October 5.

The USW represents more than 850,000 members in the U.S. and Canada. Some 70,000 are employed in the tire, rubber and plastics industry.
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