Workers are glad to be back on the job after three-month strike
Union members approved the three-year contract by a 2-to-1 margin.
AKRON (AP) -- Goodyear Tire & amp; Rubber Co. workers returned to work Tuesday after a three-month strike against the world's third-largest tire maker, and some workers said it will take time to mend wounds with management.
Jack Hefner, vice president of Steelworkers Local 2 in Akron, said Tuesday that workers were happy to be back. "Morale, I would say, is [they are] glad to be back to work," he said.
Workers at 12 plants in 10 states on Friday approved a three-year agreement covering 14,000 employees that includes plans to close a Texas tire factory and creates a 1 billion health care fund for retirees. The contract was approved by all 12 locals and by the overall membership by a 2-to-1 margin.
The company said the pact will help reduce its costs by 610 million over three years and 300 million a year thereafter.
The company said it was looking forward to focusing on business.
"What we expect is that both Goodyear and its workers now get back to being one team," Goodyear spokesman Ed Markey said. "The focus is on serving the customer and beating the competition."
Goodyear is third among the world's biggest tire makers after Japan's Bridgestone Corp. and France's Group Michelin.
Some members of the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers union were optimistic about rebuilding their relationship with management.
"Overall when we get back in there, they're going to be happy for us to get in there," said John Rutherford, president of USW Local 843L in Marysville. "I don't think they're going to be overbearing and slapping us back into shape. We're looking forward to getting back into the routine."
Rutherford held resentment only for temporary workers who filled their jobs for weeks. The strike began Oct. 5.
Al Tomasello, a nine-year employee, at the Tonawanda, N.Y., plant near Buffalo, said he believed both sides lost in the labor dispute and looked forward to returning.
"We were happy the way the company finally came around and did give us the things we were looking for," he said.
Goodyear ultimately agreed to put 1 billion into a health care fund for retired union workers' medical benefits, higher than the company's previous 660 million offer but less than the union's call for roughly double that amount.
Other workers still had raw emotions, like those in Sun Prairie, Wis., who tell stories of some managers smiling and waving their paychecks at workers on the picket lines. It will take a while to forget about that, said Jodi Dushack, 41, a 12-year worker.
"Some of the management was OK to us, but some rubbed it in our faces," she said.