United Steelworkers Local 307 approved revisions to their contract with Goodyear in voting that ended late Thursday. It allows for the company to buyout up to 100 workers. Information provided to union members earlier in the week said there also would be layoffs, for a total of 225 positions eliminated.
A statement from Local 307 said the current contract required Goodyear to maintain certain staffing and production levels at the Topeka plant. Goodyear asked the union to negotiate lowering those levels because of the current economic situation, customer demand, and current product inventory.
"During these discussions the Union’s primary focus was to protect each of our members and their families during these uncertain economic times, as well as the Topeka community, whose economy is dependent on large employers like Goodyear and good paying jobs which our negotiations provide to our members," the Local 307 statement said.
Local 307 says the decision was "difficult" but was made to keep the plant viable and competitive until the economy improves.
In addition to the buyouts, the new agreement enhances supplemental unemployment benefits to any and all employees who may face layoff. Local 307 would not comment on any details regarding layoffs.
In a statement, Goodyear Topeka Plant Manager Tim Davis confirmed from 200 to 225 workers would be affected. The Topeka facility currently employs 1600 people.
"Goodyear is pleased the membership of USW Local 307 has voted to support the tentative agreement," Davis said in the statement. "This agreement will allow needed flexibility in the production schedule at the Topeka plant during these challenging economic times."
Davis says the majority of the plant will continue to operate at six and two-thirds continuous schedule. The plant's medium radial truck division will run at reduced capacity, while OTR and military Hummer tire production will remain unchanged.