Goodyear New details offered in Phase 1 buyouts
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2009 9:30 pm
By SABRINA BATES
Special to The Messenger
A course of action has been taken concerning an agreement between Goodyear-Union City and United Steelworkers Local 878 associates to “buy out” workers at the plant.
Last week, numerous Goodyear associates eligible for a Phase 1 buyout received paperwork that includes a dotted line for those interested in leaving the plant to sign.
Under the proposal, an associate who takes a Phase 1 buyout from the company would release all claims against the company.
USW Local 878 communications director Willis Hicks said Wednesday the release of claims stipulation does not include associates who are on worker’s compensation for work-related injuries.
“I have been busy and there have been a lot of questions especially about worker’s comp for people who take this buyout. By signing that form, they are not releasing Goodyear of worker’s comp claims,” Hicks said in a phone interview.
Hicks also reported the Union hall was in the process of releasing a memo to Union members on Wednesday that confirmed associates between the ages of 53-55 with 28-plus years of service at the Goodyear-Union City plant who take a Phase 1 buyout from the company are still eligible to receive a pension grow-in from layoff.
Under the current Pension, Insurance and Service Award Agreement, a pension grow-in allows associates who retire from the Goodyear plant at age 55 to receive an additional amount of money each month until they reach the Social Security eligibility age of 62.
Hicks said there was speculation surrounding the pension grow-in earlier this week, but the company notified the Union hall it would offer the “kicker” for associates who qualify for a Phase 1 buyout.
Associates who received a packet from the company to apply for a Phase 1 buyout have until 4 p.m. Thursday to apply or rescind their application.
“Not everyone will go out at the same time. Goodyear will post a list of people at the beginning of next month who will receive a buyout. There are some people who may stay in the plant for up to 24 months depending on their job classification,” Hicks said.
If six people within a department receive a Phase 1 buyout from the company and there are only six people in that department, certain associates would be required to stay for a period of time for training purposes, according to seniority, he said.
“Some jobs take longer to train people on and other jobs take less time to train replacement associates. We want to make sure the plant can still operate during the buyout phase,” Hicks added.
The recent agreement between USW Local 878 and Goodyear-Union City comes at a time when market conditions have taken a toll on the manufacturing sector. The agreement highlights three phases of associate buyouts, lay offs and a possible plant closure.
Hicks said the agreement allows the plant to remain open for at least two more years pending market conditions.
Phase 1 of the agreement offers buyouts to 600 associates with a lump sum payment of $3,000 per year with no cap. The Union City plant will also move to a traditional three eight-hour shifts, five days a week production schedule beginning July 6 as part of an initial ticket reduction under Phase 1.
Currently, the factory operates seven days a week on a 12-hour continuous production schedule.
Goodyear plants in Topeka, Kan., and Danville, Va., have also reached similar buyout agreements with its Union associates earlier this year. According to the WIBW-TV of Kansas, 225 jobs would be eliminated through buyouts and lay offs at the Topeka-Goodyear plant.
The Danville Register and Bee reports 200 buyouts were offered at the Danville-Goodyear plant.
Both facilities also announced plans to move to a traditional eight-hours a day, five days a week production schedule.
Published in The Messenger 5.22.09