AKRON (Aug. 30, 2013) — Goodyear's new four-year master contract with union locals at six of its U.S. plants gives the tire maker the ability to reduce staffing at each facility by up to 15 percent throughout the life of the contracts and offer "discretionary buyouts" to up to 630 additional workers.
Goodyear also agreed to invest at least $700 million over four years in its North American facilities.
Goodyear disclosed these options during a conference call earlier this week with financial analysts.
The 15-percent staff reduction option could affect up to 1,200 of the 8,000 or so workers covered by the contract at Goodyear plants in Buffalo, N.Y.; Topeka, Kan.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Danville, Va.; Gadsden, Ala.; and Akron. The locals approved the new agreement Aug. 22.
The discretionary buyouts cover up to 230 workers in the first year and 400 more over the final three years, Goodyear said in its presentation.
Goodyear did not specify the potential economic impact of these moves, but said overall the new contract would be "cost neutral" compared with the 2009 contract. The contract does provide for "modest" wage increased for the two lowest pay grades, which Goodyear described as about 7 percent of the workers covered.
According to Tom Conway, USW International vice president who chaired the union's Goodyear negotiations, this level of investment is important "so that future generations can look forward to continuing the tradition of manufacturing in these communities."
In general, the new contract "improves income, retirement and job security, among other benefits," USW International President Leo Gerard said, and "protects our plants against closure throughout its term."