From Akron Beacon Journal
AKRON, OH — Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will expand production of its brand-new Assurance tire line at a union plant in Gadsden, Ala., ending a labor dispute that threatened to overshadow the product launch.
The United Steelworkers of America accused Goodyear last month of violating a labor contract by building the new passenger tires at a nonunion plant in Lawton, Okla.
The two sides said Wednesday they had reached an agreement on the issue. “We are gratified the company promptly suggested that we sit down and resolve this issue,” Ron Hoover, the union’s contract coordinator in Pittsburgh, said in a statement.
The contract, reached last year after months of tense bargaining, required Goodyear to give Steelworker-represented plants “meaningful and significant first consideration and preference” for new products for sale in North America, as long as the unionized plants had the necessary capacity “without incurring a materially greater level of capital expenditures.”
The union had demanded an explanation into how Goodyear chose a nonunion plant to build the tires. The union represents workers at 20 Goodyear facilities in the U.S. and Canada.
The company is calling the new Assurance line its most important launch since the popular Aquatred rain tire was rolled out in 1992. The first two tires in the Assurance line are the ComforTred, billed as a superquiet and comfortable tire for luxury cars; and the TripleTred, billed as a high-traction tire that can grip the road in rain, snow, ice or dry weather. The TripleTred will replace the Aquatred.
Goodyear said dealers have already placed large orders for the tires weeks before they go on sale. That will allow Goodyear to expand production “as quickly as possible” at the Gadsden union plant, while continuing to make them at the nonunion Lawton plant.
“Gadsden was always in our plans” to help build the ComforTred tires, said Brant Schnackenberg, vice president of manufacturing for Goodyear’s North American Tire division.
TripleTred will be made in Lawton, and possibly at another nonunion plant in Napanee, Ontario, if demand requires.
Copyright 2004 Akron Beacon Journal. All Rights Reserved.
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