Goodyear Revises Union Offer, Gets Blasted For Tyler Closing
(Akron/Tire Review) With no real signs that strikes at 16 of its North American plants will end any time soon, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has begun hiring “temporary” workers at most of the facilities. Various news reports also say that some striking workers at Goodyear plants have crossed the picket lines and have returned to work. Meanwhile, the United Steelworkers condemned Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s decision to close its Tyler, Texas, tyre plant, saying it was a “further example of the management’s foolish notion that believes it can shrink a company to prosperity.”
And in a 31 October letter to its striking USW employees, it appears Goodyear is backing off of its initial plan to close two of its North American tyre plants.
Union workers at 16 Goodyear plants in North America have been on strike since 5 October. The union’s previous contract with Goodyear expired 22 July.
Goodyear informed the union and all of its locals that it would begin bringing in temporary workers to help produce tyres at struck plants. The company did not say how many workers were hired, or indicate how long they would be on the job. Most of the workers were reportedly hired through an agency that specializes in staffing companies that suffer from labour negotiations shutdowns.
The union was harsh in its criticism of Goodyear’s plan to close its Tyler plant. Goodyear announced the move 30 October. “Goodyear talks about a contract that’s fair, but cannot bring themselves to acknowledge how all the other stakeholders in the company have benefited from Goodyear’s turnaround except our members,” said USW international president Leo Gerard.
“Now they seem committed to stripping away health care benefits from those who made the turnaround possible and to further close plants and abandon the business,” said USW vice president Tom Conway. “Their foolishness is outweighed only by their greed.”
“When you talk out of both sides of your mouth, sooner or later you end up eating your words,” said USW executive vice president Ron Hoover. “The company wants to steal from us the innovations we brought to the table in 2003 and the sacrifices made by all of our members and retirees since.”
In a 31 October letter to striking employees from Jim Allen, Goodyear’s director of global labour relations, the tyremaker tried to dispel some rumors while laying out its most current bargaining position.
“Despite what you may have heard, we have been actively trying to construct an agreement that would allow Goodyear to be competitive and is fair to our associates,” Allen said in the letter, “As is the case in all negotiations, both sides must make compromises to reach an agreement.”
Allen outlined “the facts” about Goodyear’s latest contract proposal, which he said include no wage rate cuts for current employees; fully restored pension service credit for the past two year’s pension freeze and maintenance of the current $55 per month per year of service pension multiplier; continuation of current COLA provisions; maintenance of current medical benefits with a “small increase” in employee contribution; the establishment of a trust fund to cover retiree medical benefits; increased profit sharing; “a substantial increase in capital investments for Steelworker plants; continuation of “job security provisions and plant protections at all US master plants except Tyler; and a new job categories for new hires “designed to substantially improve productivity and the overall cost of our products.”