Goodyear's North American plants aren't going anywhere, says union

Jan. 21, 2005

The status of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s North American tire manufacturing plants are secure, at least through the expiration of Goodyear's existing contract with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), a union spokesman told this afternoon.

Goodyear has committed to minimum staffing levels of 85% or higher at its master contract plants, he says.

In fact, "Goodyear has commitments in place to make capital investments" at its North American factories.

Goodyear made a number of big concessions to the USWA as part of the current contract, which covers 13 plants and was settled in September 2003. They include:

* Goodyear management must meet with the union before laying off workers and present to the union all details illustrating the need for layoffs, the scope of layoffs, and plans for minimizing their impact. If an agreement can't be reached, the union can challenge the layoff via arbitration.

* Goodyear agreed to reduce salaried staffing levels at corporate headquarters "and on the shop floor" by 115% of bargaining unit reduction levels tallied at the end of 2002.

* Imports will be restricted and "the use of outside contractors will be greatly curtailed."

* Limits were placed on executive compensation, both in base salaries and stock options.

* The union received a seat on Goodyear's board of directors, a first in the tire industry.

In addition, Goodyear cannot sell any plant, operation, or "significant part thereof" to any buyer who has not first negotiated a labor contract with the USWA.

The contract -- which expires in mid-2006 -- also contains provisions that restrict production transfer from union to non-union plants and other language.