Goodyear Union Says Contract Protects 6 Plants

AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- A tentative contract between the United Steelworkers and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. protects six of seven U.S. tire plants from closing for the next four years.

Union members on Tuesday received a summary of the deal reached with the Akron, Ohio-based tire maker on Aug. 30. The union says a ratification vote is expected to be completed by Sept. 18.

According to the Steelworkers, the contract maintains minimum staffing levels at plants in Akron; Buffalo, N.Y.; Danville, Va.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Gadsden, Ala.; and Topeka, Kan.

The union did not list a seventh factory, in Union City, Tenn.

Both sides had agreed in advance of the contract talks to keep Union City unprotected, according to Goodyear spokesman Ed Markey and a union spokesman, Gerald Dickey.

The status leaves open the possibility of negotiating a guarantee at the local level. For now, the plant remains in operation, Markey said Wednesday.

Goodyear has been trimming production and the work force in Union City and more than 500 employees signed up for a buyout package earlier this year. Buyouts were offered to 600 workers ages 53 to 55 who would get $3,000 for each year of service with no cap.

Tom Conway, USW International vice president, said in a prepared statement Tuesday that the contract had achieved the union goal to protect plants and jobs "while maintaining good, affordable health care in a difficult economic climate."

The tentative agreement includes cost-of-living raises and pension increases. Union workers hired after Oct. 1, 2006, will also get two 50-cent an hour wage increases.

Goodyear shares rose 27 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $16.96 in midday trading Wednesday.

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