Goodyear to cut 500 salaried jobs - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Goodyear to cut 500 salaried jobs

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said on Thursday that it will eliminate about 500 salaried and nonunion jobs at its North American tire operations.

The reductions will involve management and staff positions at most manufacturing plants throughout North America as the company continues to Each location is developing its own plan for how the reductions will be achieved by the end of September.

"When we announced our turnaround plan at the end of last year, we said that difficult decisions would be required," said Jon Rich, president of Goodyear's North American Tire business unit. "This is one of those very difficult actions, but it is absolutely necessary to achieve our cost reduction objectives."

Earlier this year, Goodyear eliminated approximately 700 salaried positions, the majority of which were at its Akron headquarters. The jobs were shed to cut costs.

The cuts were expected from the financially struggling Goodyear.

The nation's biggest tire company reported a $73.6 million second-quarter loss. For the first half of the year, Goodyear lost $236.9 million, or $1.35 a share.

The company makes tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals at more than 90 plants in 28 countries. As of the end of the second quarter, it employed about 92,000 people.

Akron-based Goodyear's turnaround plan includes reducing costs by $1 billion to $1.5 billion by the end of 2005 and possibly selling some of its non-tire businesses.

The company reached a tentative contract agreement Aug. 20 with the United Steelworkers of America. The three-year deal, expected to be a tire industry pattern, will be voted on by union members in September.

Goodyear and the Steelworkers have attempted to keep details of their settlement confidential, pending the ratification vote.

But Goodyear agreed to give the Steelworkers a seat on its board of directors as part of the deal, a union member said Thursday.

A union gaining a seat on a company's board is unprecedented for the tire industry, said Jack Hefner, vice president of Steelworkers Local 2 in Akron. He called the offer "a very good gain for the Steelworkers."

The contact also includes what he said is a "partial wage freeze" that only allows for cost of living increases.

The Steelworkers are sending a summary to its locals this week.

Dave McCall, director of Steelworkers District 1, representing Ohio, said informational meetings are being planned in September. He would not say when the union expects voting results.

"Generally, the bargaining committees worked long and hard and struggled with a lot of difficult issues. I'm confident that our members will do the right thing," McCall said.

"We're just not confirming any element" of reports on contract terms, Goodyear spokesman Chuck Sinclair said. "Our position all along has been that we will not comment on any specifics related to the contract negotiation process until ratification."

But Kevin Johnsen, a worker at Goodyear's radial tire plant in Hunstville, Ala., and a spokesman for Steelworkers Local 915 in suburban Madison, said Thursday that the contract summary includes plans to close the Huntsville plant that opened in 1969.

"It does provide for some enhancements to the already existing plant closing benefits," Johnsen said. "Until it's voted on, I can't disclose any more details of that."

The Huntsville plant has about 1,050 hourly workers now and about 250 on layoff. He estimated the plant has about 160 managers.

"All we know right now is they plan to have it down by the end of the year," Johnsen said. "We've got a plant with an $80 million plus annual payroll. It will effect a whole lot of people and a whole lot of families."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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