Negotiations continued Friday in an effort to reach an agreement and avoid a strike by approximately 2,500 workers at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Fayetteville.
The employees' United Steelworkers of America union is working to reach a new contract agreement with the Goodyear company. The current contract expires Saturday night at midnight.
Earlier this week,Fayetteville's office of the USW, the local 959, sent notices to members telling them to prepare for financial hardships if an agreement cannot be reached.
That warning also included some details about what is still be negotiated - wages, healthcare costs, vacation, pension and other benefits for long-time employees called grandfathering.
"It's the highest paying jobs for blue collar workers in Cumberland County. I would hate to see this happen to the plant in Fayetteville," commented former Goodyear employee Lee Mohagen. "I support our workers out there and I just hope the company and them can come to an agreement."
Mohagen worked for Goodyear for 20 years before taking a buyout to retire early last year. He experienced the only two strikes in the 40-year history of the Goodyear plant in Fayetteville – the strikes in 1997 and 2006.
"It wasn't good," Mohagen said. "People on the line, their pay is stopped. You still need to pay your bills, but when you work for a company, this is America, the worker needs to be protected."
The contract negotiations also affect union workers at five other Goodyear plants across the country. In total, about 8,000 employees will be affected.
Ed Markey, a Goodyear spokesman, said the company is committed to reaching an agreement. He would not elaborate on any sticking points in the talks.
Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President Doug Chambers said Friday he is confident that an agreement will be reached. He said his experience with the plants management leads him to believe the company will work very hard to meet employee needs and avoid a strike.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>