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Goodyear Makes New Offer to USW, Steelworkers to Counter

(Akron/Tire Review) Despite previous statements that it would not settle its master contract with the United Steelworkers until after the union and Bridgestone/Firestone settled their contract, on Sept. 12 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. presented what it called “a new comprehensive set of proposals” to the union.

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Goodyear’s contract offer would allow it to close up to two tire plants, and offer incentives to further reduce plant employment overall by 10%.

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The tiremaker claimed the new offer is “based closely upon the BFG/Michelin agreement” the USW reached with Michelin North America a few weeks ago.

The Steelworkers, though, said of Goodyear’s latest proposal “judging by the new package, the company does not understand it must abandon its ‘cut and gut’ agenda before we can reach a new agreement.”

Meanwhile, the USW has begun preparing for strikes at Goodyear plants, sending information out to Goodyear members concerning strike pay and personal financial matters that members need to consider.

“It appears that Goodyear now understands it cannot sit back and wait for an agreement to be reached at Bridgestone/Firestone,” the union said of Goodyear’s latest proposal, and said that it would offer its own counter-proposal this week. “We will continue to meet, discuss and bargain with the company as long as progress is being made – and not a minute longer.”

Goodyear claimed its package included plant protection for all but two Goodyear master plants, including guarantees of no layoffs below a fixed number at protected facilities; a new wage grade system; pay increases for approximately 31% of the workforce (as of July 2009); pay protection for current workers through July 2009 unless they move to a lower job grade; continuation of COLA distributed as a percentage based on pay rates; revised piece work incentives; an “exit incentive” for up to 10% of the active plant personnel; pension increases with length of service; life insurance improvements for active employees; plant investment guarantees; a plan to protect competitive retiree medical benefits into the future; reduced vacations for new hires; and “active health care changes.”

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From its standpoint, the USW claims Goodyear’s new offer would drastically cut and change COLA; change a plant’s work schedule with two weeks notice; cut accident and sickness benefits to reflect lower hourly wage rates proposed by company; eliminate supplemental workers compensation; prevent any recovery of the two-year pension freeze initiated in the 2003 contract; increase co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for health care; raise drug co-pays and add more restrictions; charge higher health care premiums for active employees; drop retiree health care and eliminate Medicare Part B reimbursement for retirees; employ a 10% contingent work force in the plants at $11 an hour with no benefits; “dramatically” reduce hourly wage pay for up to 40% of hourly employees; reduce job classifications and bid rights; change overtime pay structure; and eliminate job security guarantees for all plants.

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