There will be no strike at Bridgestone as workers overwhelmingly approved the company’s contract proposal, which came only hours before the union was ready to walk out the door.
“We think it’s a fair and equitable contract,” said United Steel Workers Local 1155 representative Van Tenpenny.
The 750 union workers at the Morrison plant ratified the contract by a vote of 73 to 27 percent, meaning nearly three out of four voted in favor of the four-year deal.
While there was give and take in the contract, Tenpenny said the rank and file benefited from several improvements, including a pay raise which will see wages increase by $1.50 per hour over the next four years with 75 cents of that amount in the first year. Workers will also each get a $1,000 signing bonus for simply endorsing the contract.
For new hires, to whom the 2009 contract was not kind, there will be improvements. They will get bereavement pay and won’t have to wait a year and a half to accrue vacation time.
Maintenance workers saw an increase in pay, something Tenpenny said was important to keep them here.
“Their pay has lagged behind,” Tenpenny said. “We’ve been losing them to other places like Volkswagen so this will bring them more in line to the industry standard.”
In other areas the contract increased the pension modifier and allows military employees who work on night shift to make up time from drill and other military work on the day shift.
Tenpenny said there will be an increase in what employees have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses, but the wage increase should easily cover that amount.
Tenpenny said the union has enjoyed the support of the community during the recent contract negotiations and that support is appreciated.
The five other Bridgestone plants that joined the Morrison plant at the bargaining table in Louisville, Ky., have also reportedly approved their contracts.