|08-11-03: Union counters Goodyear offer
|By LANCE MIHM
The Daily Standard
ST. MARYS - Union officials submitted a counteroffer to Goodyear Tire
& Rubber Co. officials on Saturday for a new contract, according to officials at the
United Steelworkers Local 22 in St. Marys.
Last week, a bargaining committee selected by the union quickly
rejected a modified offer submitted to them last week by the company. The two sides have
been in negotiations since March.
"Company officials are looking at the proposal right now,"
local union representative Gary McMullen told The Daily Standard this morning of his
McMullen did not have any details about the reciprocating offer, but
did say the primary focuses were on job security, plant closings and medical benefits for
both active and retired workers, something the union feels was not addressed properly in
the company's offer.
Senior vice president of global communications Chuck Sinclair would not
discuss the proposal and said both sides took a break from talks Saturday night. Talks
were scheduled to begin again today in Cincinnati.
The Akron-based company reported a record $1.1 billion annual loss for
fiscal 2002. It has announced a turnaround plan that includes reducing costs by $1 billion
to $1.5 billion by the end of 2005 and possibly selling some of its non-tire businesses.
The contract between the union and the company's North American tire
operations expired April 19 but the two sides agreed to extend the contract through June
27. The union rejected the company's last proposal 20 minutes before the June 27 deadline
and negotiations ceased with workers still laboring under the existing contract. Talks
resumed July 28 in Cincinnati.
While the reasons for rejecting the contract have been no secret, Local
200 president Glass offered more specifics of the union's position. Glass said the company
wanted to raise drug card copayments from the current cost of $2 to $10 for generic drugs,
$20 for non-generic and even up to $40 for other specific medication.
The company is also asking that workers pay for medical coverage, $800
annually for family coverage and $400 for single person coverage. Glass said a person
retiring in 1985 could not pay for that with one month's retiree benefits.
Job security issues have also been a big issue. The union says they
have offered to help the plant cut inefficiencies in operation costs but that the company
has turned a deaf ear to their proposals.
Company officials have rejected that claim, saying the cost structure
of operations are continually looked at as an ongoing process, whether they are in
negotiations or not.
Negotiations cover contracts for more than 19,000 active workers and
22,000 retirees employed at Goodyear, Kelly-Springfield and Dunlop plants across the
United States. The local union has 525 members.
The company makes tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals at
more than 90 plants in 28 countries. It employs about 92,000 people.
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