Steelworkers ratify four-year contract
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2009 4:03 pm
Pittsburgh – The United Steelworkers (USW) Friday 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 and file referendum vote concluded Thursday 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. Goodyear-Union City is not a protected plant.
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 the 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 inexpensive, imported tires from China.