Steelworkers at U.S. BFG plants ratify labor contract
Steelworkers at three Michelin North America Inc. (MNA)-owned BFGoodrich plants in the United States have ratified a new labor contract.
The agreement -- which expires July 2006 -- covers some 3,400 workers at factories in Opelika and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Fort Wayne, Ind.
Employees at the facilities voted 70% in favor of the agreement, which was first announced last week.
Workers at MNA´s Kitchener, Ontario, plant ratified a separate contract earlier this week, ending a strike that started on June 1.
"The new agreements are expected, over time, to yield a 20% annual reduction in the $300 million yearly labor cost at the facilities through ground-breaking cost reductions and increased efficiencies," say MNA officials.
They add that the contracts will bring the BFGoodrich factories "more in line with the flexibility and competitiveness of Michelin´s union-free plants in North America."
MNA has 21 plants in North America; 17 of them are non-union.
Concessions won by MNA include:
* greater use of contingent staffing -- up to 10% of its full-time United States workforce "with increased utilization during weekends;"
* larger contributions from employees for heath care;
* bigger health care premiums for retirees, starting next summer;
* a five-year wage progression program "that provides substantially reduced hourly pay" for "employees hired in the future;"
* reductions in employee cost-of-living pay increases.
In return, MNA has agreed to:
* invest $150 million in the four plants through 2006 to upgrade technology and outfit them to produce larger size, higher margin passenger and light truck tires;
* not close or enact "significant employment reductions" at any BFGoodrich plant "beyond the negotiated productivity improvements" during the next two years;
* make a one-time transition payment of $20 million to help U.S. retirees with increased health care costs;
* make a "modest" pension increase "consistent with inflation."