By Oliver Hall
Goodyear tyres have announced that its new four-year labour contract with members of the United Steelworkers union will save the company $215 million over the life of the agreement.
Combined with earlier staff-reduction agreements at five plants, the Akron, Ohio-based tyres manufacturer expects $555 million in savings by 2013.
Goodyear also agreed to invest $600 million over four years to upgrade plants represented by the Steelworkers.
Richard J. Kramer, Goodyear chief operating officer and president for North American Tyre, said the agreement would allow the company to improve efficiency and flexibility in a quick-changing marketplace.
“This innovative agreement can truly change the way we run these factories,” he said. “It’s an agreement that gets us excited about our future competitiveness.”
The agreement gives the company flexibility on holiday scheduling and staffing levels and trims $55 million in wage and benefit costs, according to Kramer.
For example, an employee who voluntarily moves to a lower-paying job cannot keep getting paid at the higher rate, while a tyre builder will now be able to perform some maintenance on his own equipment instead of passing the job to a second worker as mandated by previous union rules.
The move is expected to improve efficiency and eliminates time lost while waiting for a worker to respond to the problem, Dow Jones said.
The seven plants covered by the master agreement are in: Akron, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; Danville, Virginia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Gadsden, Alabama; Topeka, Kansas; and Union City, Tennessee.