Goodyear Workers Approve Contract
Posted December 28, 2006 6:02 p.m. EST
Updated December 29, 2006 8:43 a.m. EST
According to United Steelworkers Local 959 president Daryl Jackson, members in Fayetteville cast ballots in favor of the proposed contract with a 93 percent vote on Thursday. Nationally, the union reported that all locals had approved the contract by a 2-to-1 margin.
"I'm pretty impressed and very thankful that our membership deems it as a good enough contract to return to work," Jackson said after the balloting. "It has been a trying experience, but it has made us a much stronger union. I hope we never have to go through another strike."
Union leaders said eight locals that represent plants in Tyler, Texas; Tonawanda, N.Y.; Fayetteville; Sun Prairie, Wis.; Lincoln, Neb.; Union City, Tenn.; Danville, Va; and Marysville, Ohio, voted to approve the contract.
The three-year agreement includes plans to close a Texas tire factory but creates a $1 billion health care fund for retirees. It also calls for holding the line on wages for longtime workers while lowering starting pay to $13 an hour.
"It's going to benefit the people that's been there longer," striking worker Karen Barber said.
About 2,000 workers at Goodyear's Fayetteville plant joined fellow union members nationwide by walking off the job on Oct. 5 to protest what they said was the company's attempt to cut pay and health benefits.
"It could have been better in some areas, but you've got to give a little to get a little," striking worker Robert Durham said.
Workers at the Fayetteville plant said they expect to be back on the job next week.
"We've got our insurance back for two years," said striking worker Marsh Gainey, who voted for the proposed contract.
Striking workers celebrated the contract vote with singing, chanting and shouting outside the Fayetteville plant.
As temporary workers left the plant Thursday afternoon, strikers waved pink sheets of paper—pink slips—at them. Goodyear hired temporary workers to keep the plants running during the strike. Union leaders said the hundreds of temps must be off job before union members return to work.
"I guarantee they will be out of there. They'll be out of there, no doubt," striking worker Dale Chason said.