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Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Goodyear, union schedule a vote

By Janie Southard
Striking Steelworkers are still on the picket line in St. Marys this morning, but the end may be in sight following last week's tentative agreement with Goodyear.
United Steelworkers (USW) Local 200L in St. Marys will hold informational meetings on the proposed three-year contract on Wednesday, with members scheduled to vote on Thursday, according to Local 200L President Gary Glass, who recently returned from the final negotiations in Pittsburgh, Pa.
"I'm hopeful it will pass ... It's the best deal we've had, probably better than the pattern," Glass told The Daily Standard this morning.
The three-year contract established earlier this year between B.F. Goodrich and the USW served as the current standard or pattern for other union-company negotiations within the industry. It is reasoned that pattern bargaining makes economics equal for all master contract shops with the industry. Goodyear has served as the pattern in the past.
Glass said he expects the membership in general to go back to work on Jan. 2 if the agreement is accepted by vote from all USW striking locations.
However, he added it could be a staggered startup. "We still need to talk to management, because we don't really know what's in the plant and if we're ready to run," he said.
On a more personal note, he said: "It's been tough on a lot of (our membership), but I thank them for holding together on the line ... And, there have been a lot of people putting in a lot of hours here (at the union hall)."
He added appreciation to community businesses and individuals who have "generously supported" the striking workers during the past 11 weeks.
The tentative agreement got the go-ahead Friday from the USW Goodyear Policy Committee, which is comprised of local union leaders in various USW facilities. Union workers in 16 Goodyear plants in the United States and Canada went on strike on Oct. 5 after extended negotiations fell apart. The most recent contract expired on July 22.
According to the "USW News," full details of the contract will not be released until after the membership has voted. However, the contract addresses three areas of concern:
• Establishing a company-financed trust of more than $1 billion to secure medical and prescription drug benefits for current and future retirees.
• Keeping global competition on home shores by Goodyear increasing its capital investments to at least $550 million in USW-represented plants.
• Maintaining affordable, high quality medical and drug coverage for active members and retirees.
The tentative agreement also requires Goodyear to withdraw its plans for immediate closure of the Tyler, Texas plant. The agreement provides for a one-year period of transition allowing workers to take advantage of sizable retirement buyouts.
As long as the company stays in the market for the same tire type built at Tyler, those tires will have to be produced at USW-represented plants in the United States.
The USW, based in Pittsburgh, represents more than 850,000 members in the United States and Canada. Of those members about 70,000 are employed in the tire, rubber and plastics industries.

Steelworkers plan meetings:
Members of United Steelworkers Local 200L will hold informational meetings for union members to discuss the tentative agreement with Goodyear Tire and Rubber at 1 and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the union hall on South Street, St. Marys.
Members will have the opportunity to vote on the new three-year contract from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, also at the union hall.
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