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Thursday, December 28, 2006
  Union Votes On National Agreement On Wednesday No Internet for hours yesterday so I couldn't correct my Gerald Ford story that I hacked up yesterday (I had to put it in the comments before Frontier's wireless went down and I couldn't answer e-mails. I've vowed not to write about GOP politics when I was seven ever, ever again. I'm a doofus. Alas, Hooterville had no wireless for what seemed a millennium yesterday and I couldn't clarify.) It was back this morning. But, I was busy yesterday anyway because the Local 878L met and voted on the tentative agreement that the United Steelworkers and Goodyear had hashed out last week. I went to the picket line as retirees walked for union members as they had to go vote to get some quotes for my story running today. As "Press and Scabs" weren't allowed at the meeting, we had to do what we could to get some semblance of a story. Yes, the man who spoke yesterday to the union members at Obion County High School, according to my sources, put "Press and Scabs" in the same sentence. Where the picketers stopped the trucks and cars entering the plant, a member of security pointed his camera at us (evil media) the entire time. For some reason, it really hacked me off that the guy with the camera was following our every move but I didn't have to deal with it everyday like other folks, but it was just weird. Also the guy had on a ski mask that covered his entire face and I couldn't help feeling like I was in some surreal sci-fi movie. I waved and smiled at him although I wanted to throw my reporters notebook at him. The USW won't say anything. Goodyear won't say anything. It does create some problems of getting accurate information. But union members did decide to talk to us later in the day and I scrambled. Thanks to one guy who has not been afraid to speak his mind to me, I have in my hot little hands an actual copy of the agreement they voted for. So there Union and Goodyear. The changes I see, and I'm no authority about unions, is that Goodyear will close its Tyler plant within the year. I'm also hearing there will be a lot of early retirements (at least here) once they go back to work. Many people weren't happy with the COLA, and health care for the retirees will go into a VEBA account. Goodyear is going to up the money they put into that (around $1 billion.) The word on the street is the local guys passed this overwhelmingly (street gossip is 68 percent. That is completely unofficial.) but Goodyear and the local hall won't announce this until every union member has voted in the United States and in Canada and the agreement is ratified. The retirees on the line were interesting. They were optimistic about the vote, but one man I spoke to did say that this basically was just a band-aid and that within the next few years, Goodyear most likely would be moving off shore. "I just wanted to keep what health care I had," he said. "I can't even vote." Now the way I understand it (I am no authority on unions), if the contract is ratified this weekend, the workers will probably go back to work sometime in the middle of next week. Long day. Is it a band-aid long term? Probably. Will it bring a sigh of relief for now? Yes. Here are a couple of blogs watching the new developments. Local, the blog from the USW, and the actual site
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