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Goodyear union workers vote on proposed contract that could end 12-week strike

Goodyear union workers vote on proposed contract that could end 12-week strike

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. workers were deciding Thursday whether to end their 12-week strike of the world's third-largest tiremaker, voting on a contract that would cover about 14,000 employees across the U.S.
Two United Steelworkers union locals that represent plants in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Union City, Tennessee, voted to approve the contract. Those workers are among union members at 12 Goodyear plants in 10 states voting on a three-year agreement reached Dec. 22.
Goodyear and the union reached the deal after both sides resumed talks in Pittsburgh over the strike, which began Oct. 5.
A key issue was the company's proposed health care fund for retirees. Goodyear ultimately agreed to put $1 billion (euro760 million) into the fund for medical benefits, which was higher than the company's previous $660 million (euro501 million) offer but less than the union had sought.
Richard Scritchfield, a 28-year tiremaker who works for Goodyear's technical center in Akron, voted Thursday after spending the night on the picket line.
"If it's voted down, then, yes, we'll stay out on the picket line," Scritchfield said. "We'll stay for as long as it takes. Most of the guys I talked to are against it."
But Ed Bennett, a 30-year Goodyear worker, said as he approached the union hall for Local 2L in Akron that he thinks the contract will pass and he plans to vote for it.
"I think we won," Bennett said. "It's just like in the good old days. Goodyear had to take notice of us. We've got retiree benefits and we've kept our wages when it seems like Goodyear wanted to cut us to pieces."
The union members voting nationwide include active workers as well as about 1,400 inactive workers, which includes some who have been laid off.
In Tennessee, the contract was approved Wednesday by 64 percent of union members who voted, union recording secretary Willis Hicks said. The union local represents about 2,800 active and laid off workers at a plant that makes car tires.
Workers at the plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, who make hoses and belts approved the deal Wednesday. The union represents about 1,050 active and laid off workers at the plant.
Gary Schaefer, vice president of the Steelworkers Local 286 in Lincoln, said he could not provide the vote total Wednesday, but said he hopes the agreement is approved.
"I don't know what it means for the future if this thing doesn't pass," he said.
In North Carolina, almost 2,000 people listened to a three-hour explanation of the deal's terms Wednesday afternoon. If the contract is ratified, striking workers at a tire-making plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina, could be back at work as soon as Jan. 2, said Darryl Jackson, president of the United Steelworkers Local 959 union.
USW spokesman Wayne Ranick said details about vote totals might be released Thursday night.
Workers at four Goodyear plants in Ontario, Canada, where about 400 union members on strike at four plants, do not have a tentative agreement but will vote Thursday and Friday on a separate company proposal.
Akron-based Goodyear is seeking a contract that will help it be more globally competitive.
The tentative deal reached elsewhere allows Goodyear to close a plant in Tyler, Texas, but provides a one-year transition period when workers can take retirement buyouts. The plant employs 1,100 workers who make unprofitable wholesale private label tires.
Goodyear has about 80,000 employees and makes tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals in 29 countries.
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Associated Press Writers Nate Jenkins in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Anna Jo Bratton in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this report.
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On the Net:
http://www.gkdsolidarityexpress.org
http://www.goodyearnegotiations.com


Updated : 2021-05-19 04:59 GMT+08:00