GADSDEN, Ala.—Faced with product shortages, Goodyear has decided to delay the shutdown of its passenger and light truck tire plant in Gadsden, following union members' approval of a more flexible working agreement. Members of United Steelworkers of America Local 12 authorized changes to the local contract during secret balloting Oct. 12-14, giving the company increased operational efficiency to make the facility more competitive, according to a joint statement.
Not only will Goodyear maintain tire production at the plant beyond the planned mid-December shutoff, the company will add between 400 and 550 jobs to the current hourly employment level of 600-650 at the factory, with recalls to start immediately.
Production levels will rise from the current 5,100 radial light truck tires a day to about 6,000 of those tires and 11,000 to 12,000 passenger tires a day, according to Local 12 officials.
Goodyear announced Feb. 3 that it would cease making tires at its oldest North American tire facility by year's end, while maintaining rubber mixing operations at Gadsden.
Goodyear officials approached Local 12 President Mickey Williams in early October with the proposal to continue tire production. The company cited higher than expected market demand—especially for light truck tires—as the reason. The two sides didn't release details of the agreement.
Union officials explained the proposition to members during six meetings held Oct. 12-14, with secret balloting after each session. Goodyear had indicated before the votes that there would be no further discussions if union members rejected the plan.
``This opportunity in Gadsden is an opportunity we didn't have a few weeks ago,'' Mr. Williams said. There was no guarantee on employment levels or how long the tire production would last, he added.
Goodyear said the type of cooperation shown in this agreement is what's needed in today's business climate. ``In today's market we need to move away from the old, institution mentality to a business focus that is responsive and timely,'' Bill Sharp, president of Goodyear's North American Tire business, said in a statement.