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Goodyear says new contract will save millions

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Goodyear says new contract will save millions

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. says its new, four-year contract with the United Steelworkers will provide $215 million in savings over the course of the agreement. Combined with pre-contract agreements to reduce staffing at five Goodyear plants, savings are expected to total $555 million.

Richard Kramer, president of Goodyear's North American Tire unit, says the new contract builds on significant changes made in the company's 2003 and 2006 labor pacts. Key elements include:

* Increased productivity that allows changes in how Goodyear's plants are run, including added ability to update and maintain competitive work standards; "clarified expectations" for individual employee performance; an expanded ability to execute vacation shutdowns; and the ability "for production workers to perform minor maintenance work."

* Wage and benefit savings that lower Goodyear's overall cost structure, including the elimination of "wage grandfathering for voluntary job changes;" standardized job posting procedures; increased medical benefit cost sharing; no general wage increase and a "modest" increase for post-2006 hires; and others.

* Increased flexibility, including increased staffing flexibility at five factories; unprotected status for Goodyear's Union City, Tenn., plant; the ability to use buy-outs to respond to unexpected market downturns; and the ability to outsource certain equipment maintenance jobs.

The contract also requires Goodyear to invest $600 million over the next four years at its USW facilities "to make them more efficient and productive," according to Goodyear officials.

The seven plants covered by the new master contract include Union City; Topeka, Kan.; Gadsden, Ala.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Danville, Va; Buffalo, N.Y.; and a racing tire manufacturing facility at Goodyear global headquarters in Akron, Ohio.


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