Goodyear Workers React To Agreement - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/29/06-Tyler

Goodyear Workers React To Agreement

Goodyear workers are heading back to work Tuesday after union members nationwide unanimously passed an agreement Thursday night.   The deal includes: the Tyler plant staying open through at least the end of 2007, one billion dollars will be put into a retiree benefit fund, there will be two-thousand dollar buyouts for each year of employment for new retirees and a new 13-dollar starting wage, down from the typical 24 dollars an hour.  

Goodyear says the new agreement supports the company's strategy to cut costs, but many union workers have mixed feelings about it.

Just last week, there were picketers holding signs, walking up and down the entryway to the Tyler plant, now it's empty. That's because Thursday night, Goodyear workers nationwide voted and ultimately passed a tentative agreement, keeping the Tyler plant open one more year. It's a decision many union members feel good about.    

Gary Stout, a 27 year Goodyear worker, says, "I wish they hadn't messed with us, you know, it had to come to this, but I'm happy for the people able to go back into work and me take retirement.

Jesse Navarro, a one year Goodyear employee, says, "overall, I think it's a good thing to at least get another year in there and show Goodyear that we're able to perform up to their standard.

And Ronnie Smiley, who's worked for Goodyear the past 37 years, says, "they all felt like I did, that we need to get back to work, that we fought a good fight and now it's time to go back to work."

But not everyone thought the fight should have been over. One third of Tyler union members voted against the proposal, saying they wanted to hold out for a better agreement.    

That includes Joe Wyatt who says, "I felt like we were on a journey, and we were almost to our destination and we quit before we got there."

And Jim Wansley, President of the local United Steelworkers of America, says, "I'm personally a little disappointed because you know I wanted to get three years of security for the plant."

Goodyear says they think the deal is the answer to reducing costs and making union members happy. In a statement released Friday, Goodyear Chairman and CEO, writes, "Reaching an agreement on a contract that competitively positions Goodyear for the future is a huge achievement for everyone involved in the negotiation process. The end result is Goodyear will be a stronger company, a stronger employer and a stronger overall global competitor."  

Either way, Goodyear workers are heading back to work Tuesday.

Tom Mullins, President of the Tyler Economic Development Council gave us a comment about the impact this will have on Tyler's economy. He says, "I think it's very encouraging news and I hope in the coming year we can find some opportunities to keep the plant even longer. To keep 70 million dollars a year in payroll in place is a tremendous help for the entire economy. "

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com.

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