MNA/USW Contract Includes Reduced Pay, No Layoffs or Closings Allowed - Tire Review Magazine

MNA/USW Contract Includes Reduced Pay, No Layoffs or Closings Allowed

(Akron/Tire Review – Ft. Wayne Journal/AP) A muddled future became a lot clearer for more than 1,100 workers at the Michelin North America’s plant in Woodburn late Saturday.

United Steelworkers of America union members ratified a three-year contract with the company after completing a vote that began earlier this week in Woodburn and Alabama. According to the local USW 715’s Web site, a majority of members at each plant approved the deal.

The pact will serve as a “template” for the USW’s talks with Goodyear and Bridgestone/Firestone. USW and Goodyear are scheduled to return to the bargaining table this week, and are working day-to-day under their now-expired contract.

Perhaps their biggest concession in the MNA/USW deal was the union agreeing to a lower starting wage for new employees, as much as $7 less an hour than what it is now, USW 715 vice president Joe Gengo said. Current employees’ wages will be unaffected. Hourly wages for 1,100 workers at the Woodburn plant range from $13.50 to $24.50 per hour, Gengo said. Workers can earn more by exceeding production quotas. Most new hires will work as many as to four years before reaching top pay for their positions. Those workers also will receive lower pension benefits.

Gengo also said all workers will have to pay a little more for healthcare, but pension plans will not be touched.

On Aug. 5, Gengo said he was unsure how the vote would swing. Earlier last week, he seemed pessimistic the contract would be ratified. Still, he wasn’t shocked that it was.

“Not knowing what was going to happen, I wasn’t surprised,” Gengo said. “I wouldn’t have been surprised if they voted it down, and I wasn’t surprised they voted it in.”

Union members from the Woodburn plant approved the contract in voting Tuesday and Wednesday and were awaiting results from union members in Opelika, Ala., who voted Saturday. Workers in Tuscaloosa, Ala., also OK’d the deal earlier last week.

Contract terms bar the company from closing any of the plants while the agreement is in effect. The plants also cannot lay off workers, except for previously announced job cuts at the Opelika plant and inventory adjustments.

The contract also includes company-offered buyouts for some workers, including 100 at the Woodburn plant.

Meanwhile, the USW said that Goodyear’s initial contract calls for wage cuts of some 40%. It says the two sides remain far apart on a new agreement.

"Initially, in both proposals, there was big differences," union spokesman Wayne Ranick said. "The company hasn’t moved much. We’ll have to see where things stand."

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