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Goodyear contract saves jobs at Dunlop Tonawanda factory has 4-year guarantee

A new contract approved by unionized workers at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. is a guarantee that the Goodyear-Dunlop tire plant in the Town of Tonawanda will remain open for the next four years and that 1,000 jobs were saved.

Mark Kurkowski, president of United Steelworkers Local 135, said the contract was a good deal for the local tire workers and Goodyear.

"We probably have the best tire builders in the industry," Kurkowski said of the Dunlop plant.

The Tonawanda factory was one of six Goodyear plants guaranteed minimum staffing levels in the agreement. The deal also protects factories in Akron, Ohio; Gadsden, Ala.; Topeka, Kan.; Danville, Va.; and Fayetteville, N.C.

Only one Goodyear plant was not covered by the contract, the factory in Union City, Tenn. A local agreement negotiated in April provided for as many as 600 workers there to receive buyouts.

If for some reason the Dunlop plant stops making truck tires in the Tonawanda plant, the approved contract calls for buyouts for 200 workers, Kurkowski said.

The buyouts are calculated at $2,000 per year of service, with a maximum payout of $50,000, the union said.

The Sheridan Drive plant makes tires for commercial trucks, passenger cars and motorcycles. It makes an average of 2,000 truck tires per day, the smallest output of the three tire categories.

There were also improved pension payments, he said. The current scale of $55 for each year of service rises to $58 at year's end, and then $63 after that point.

Medical insurance benefits remain the same with a 3 1/2 percent increase in the cost for workers, Kurkowski said, and Goodyear promised to sit down with the union to discuss any changes if a new national health insurance policy passes Congress.

The contract agreement is the second piece of good news for local Goodyear-Dunlop workers this month.

The Obama administration announced Sept. 12 it would slap tariffs on imported Chinese tires. That move was seen as an indication that President Obama will take a tougher stance than his predecessors on unfair trade practices.

e-mail: mbeebe@buffnews.com

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