Steelworkers ratify new labor agreements at Bridgestone/Firestone plants

April 26, 2007

Members of the United Steelworkers have ratified new labor agreements for its members at eight Bridgestone/Firestone plants. Agreements last through July 18, 2009.

"Some 52% of the membership covered by the master contract voted to accept the tentative agreement which was reached on April 4, while separate pacts at (the company's) Warren County, Tenn., and Bloomington, Ill. (facilties) passed by 3:2 and 3:1 margins, respectively," say union officials.

The master contract covers workers at four tire manufacturing sites in Akron, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; La Vergne, Tenn.; and Oklahoma City, Okla. It also covers a Firestone tube plant in Russellville, Ark., and a Firestone air spring plant in Noblesville, Ind.

The new contracts fall in line with the pattern agreements negotiated with Michelin North America Inc. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., according to USW Executive Vice President Ron Hoover.

"Quality health care coverage was maintained for active members and retirees alike, cost-of-living allowances were preserved and pension benefits were improved," he says.

It provides "closure protection to the plants in Warren County, Des Moines and La Vergne, as well as $100 million in investments.

"Current employees will receive wage-rate protection and the contracts guarantee job protection of at least 90% of established levels."

"The LaVergne plant will become a protected facility if, and when, it adopts an incentive pay system. It would then become eligible to receive capital investments."

In addition, the master contract includes union workers at Bridgestone/Firestone's Oklahoma City factory, where the company halted tire production at the end of 2006.

"Provisions in the new deal include a $23 million plant closure package, in addition to contractual benefits and life insurance coverage."