Michelin Offers Buyouts to Union Workers - Tire Review Magazine

Michelin Offers Buyouts to Union Workers

(Akron/Tire Review – Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette) Workers at Michelin North America’s Woodburn plant are weighing the pros and cons of accepting 100 company-offered buyouts as they wait for the outcome of voting Tuesday and Wednesday on a tentative union agreement.

The returns are due Saturday night.

The tentative contract, which more than 1,100 local workers were allowed to vote on this week, includes “special separation benefits” that will be offered to 100 workers in Woodburn; 235 workers in Opelika, Ala.; and 100 workers in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

United Steelworkers members at all three plants are covered by the same agreement with Michelin North America. The unions of two of the three facilities must approve the agreement for it to be ratified. Opelika’s final employee meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The company has previously announced a plan to cut the workforce at Opelika. If the contract is accepted, the buyouts would keep the company from giving pink slips to those who want to keep working.

Woodburn workers who choose the buyout would be given a one-time cash payment of up to two weeks’ pay for each completed year of service with the company, not to exceed 40 weeks of pay. Workers must apply for the benefits on or before Aug. 31 and agree to work until an unspecified date not later than Mar. 31.

Technical maintenance employees are not eligible to participate.

Those who take the buyout must retire from the company. No more than 100 buyouts will be allowed in Woodburn. If more people apply, workers would be approved based on seniority. If fewer than the combined 435 buyouts aren’t claimed at the three facilities, company and union leaders will meet to decide “how to allocate the excess allotments.”

Joe Gengo, vice president of USW Local 715, qualifies for the buyout but isn’t considering taking it. He acknowledged it could be a good deal for some people eager to start retirement, but it’s not right for his family.

“It’s not going to pay for two kids going to college,” Gengo said.

Debating the issue is pointless, however, if the contract isn’t ratified. About 760 local union members voted in the first two meetings, held Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. A third meeting was scheduled for Wednesday evening at Memorial Coliseum.

Gengo attended the gatherings but didn’t hear a unified response to the proposal.

“I’m still not sure which way this is going with this crowd,” he said.

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