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UC Goodyear plant not protected under tentative contract

UC Goodyear plant not protected under tentative contract

Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 8:58 pm

 The Union City Goodyear plant is the only one not protected under the tentative contract being considered this week by some 10,300 United Steelworkers members at seven plants in the United States. According to information provided by the USW, the proposed master agreement protects the following plants against closure: Akron, Ohio; Gadsden, Ala.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Topeka, Kan.; Danville, Va., and Fayetteville, N.C. Minimum staffing levels will be maintained and no shift in production from the protected plants may be made to any non-USW represented production facility. In the event that the company decides no longer to produce truck tires at Buffalo, 200 separation allowance buyouts will be made available to employees there. The buyouts are calculated at $2,000 per year of service, with a maximum payout of $50,000. Union members at the Union City Goodyear plant agreed earlier this year to a three-phase buyout agreement that called for up to 600 associates to leave under the first phase. Under Phase 2 of the agreement, 400 buyouts would be offered. Phase 3 of the agreement includes plant closure. “Our priorities were to protect our plants and our jobs while maintaining good, affordable health care in a difficult economic climate,” said USW international vice president Tom Conway. “This contract achieved these goals in addition to making some other needed improvements such as securing resources the union can defer to assist our retirees. “In a global economy, capital investment is crucial in keeping our plants competitive,” Conway said. “This agreement requires Goodyear to invest a minimum of $600 million in capital expenditures to maintain our production facilities with state-of-the-art equipment. This not only means job security for our members but also a continuing commitment to the communities that support these facilities.” The cost-of-living provision in the previous contract continues for all employees, according to the press release. Wage and benefit improvements have been made for employees who have been hired after Oct. 1, 2006. They will receive two 50 cents an hour increases, the first coming after one year of service and the second after two years. Additional vacation time will bring them closer to the levels of senior employees. They will also be eligible to receive accident and sickness benefits and vision care, as well as improved life insurance coverage. Senior employees who retire under the new agreement will see their monthly pension multiplier increase by $3 to $58 for each year of service. An additional $5 increase on the multiplier will be paid to employees who retire on or after Jan. 1, 2010, for years of service accrued after that date. Therefore, years of service up to Dec. 31, 2009, will be calculated with a pension multiplier of $58, and years following that will be calculated with a $63 multiplier. Employees hired after Dec. 22, 2006, and covered by the Defined Contribution Pension Plan (DCP) will receive a contribution from the company of 3 percent of an employee’s compensation during a payroll period. The recent hires with continuous service prior to the date of the agreement will also receive a retroactive pension contribution of 5 percent of their earnings. Going forward, they will also be eligible for a 50 percent matching contribution on the first four percent of their contributions into the 401k plan. The tentative master agreement negotiated with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is being submitted to the rank and file for a secret ballot referendum vote that is expected to be concluded by Sept. 18. Voting sessions in Union City started Tuesday at the National Guard Armory on Reelfoot Avenue in Union City. Additional sessions will be 7 p.m. today and Thursday at 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Meetings and discussions between local union leaders and members are taking place at all locations in advance of the vote. USW contract coordinator Kevin Johnsen said that contract summaries have been made available and the membership will have plenty of time to digest all the information before voting. “The contract must be approved by a majority of the membership and a majority of the plants,” Johnsen said. The previous labor agreement expired July 18 and the contract was extended twice before the tentative settlement was reached at the end of August. Published in The Messenger 9.9.09

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