Steelworkers Reach Deal At BFGoodrich Plants In Alabama, Indiana

Three-year pact guarantees no announced plant closures.

The United Steelworkers said Monday that a new master agreement covering 4,000 members with BFGoodrich's three plants in Fort Wayne, Ind., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Opelika, Ala., has been ratified, with 61 percent of the membership voting to accept the three-year tentative agreement that was reached July 25.

The contract guarantees no announced plant closures during the contract, a minimum of $100 million in capital investment expenditures to keep the facilities globally competitive, 100 percent protection of all technical maintenance jobs and a 90 percent guarantee for all others. A pension increase is also part of the package, with an improved pension multiplier of $57 per month - up from $54 - per year of service for retirements after July 23, 2006.

"Given the challenges facing every American industry, and ones specific to tire manufacturing such as escalating oil costs, higher material coats and reduced demand, it was very difficult negotiating an agreement that protected jobs, benefits and pensions," said USW executive vice president Ron Hoover. "But we did."

The contract also puts in a new wage payment schedule for the future that will allow the plants to continue to compete globally. While starting wages for certain less skilled jobs are lower, the wage progression schedule is shortened by one year, and health care, pension and retiree health care benefits are maintained.

In June, the USW named BFGoodrich as the industry's target company. With a new contract in place at this Michelin subsidiary, the Steelworkers will use it as a template in forging new agreements at Goodyear and Bridgestone/Firestone.

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