LA VERGNE — Bridgestone tire factory workers reported back to work Friday after their union reached a tentative pay agreement Thursday night.
The agreement involves 4,000 workers at six Bridgestone plants, including the La Vergne factory, according to a press release from United Steelworkers.
The workers had representation from the union's Rubber and Plastic Industry Council led by Chairman Kevin Johnsen. Local union leaders on the Bridgestone Policy Committee also voiced their concerns about crafting a new agreement to replace the contract that expired at 11 p.m. Thursday, according to the press release.
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“We came to the table prepared to negotiate in good faith for a fair contract, and management made us fight for it every step of the way,” Johnsen said in the press release. “We are proud of what we have accomplished thanks to the unity, strength, and solidarity of our members and activists across all of the Bridgestone locations.”
The La Vergne factory has about 1,100 workers, including 900 direct Bridgestone employees. They showed their desire for a better contract Tuesday through picketing by their plant off Waldron Road.
Johnsen said that the committee will be presenting the proposed agreement to the membership for ratification.
“Our members have earned and deserve fair wages, benefits, and working conditions,” Johnson said. “The proposed contract builds on decades of collective bargaining progress with hard-fought economic and contract language improvements.”
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The union will not be discussing the details of the proposed new contract with the public until members have had the opportunity to review the agreement with their elected union representatives in the coming days and weeks, according to the press release.
Bridgestone spokeswoman Emily Weaver provided the following statement about the tentative contract:
"The new agreement, if ratified, will ensure thousands of U.S. teammates in five states maintain good-paying jobs and strengthen the global competitiveness of the company’s U.S. manufacturing facilities."
The tentative agreement speaks to the commitment from Bridgestone and the United Steelworkers to continue to support current operations at the six plants while maintaining flexibility to invest in future growth opportunities so we can continue to serve our customers, the Bridgestone statement added.
Bridgestone Americas has a North American headquarters in downtown Nashville.
La Vergne factory opened 50 years ago
The Bridgestone Americas factory in La Vergne manufactures truck and bus radial tires. The company bought the plant in 1983 about 11 years after Firestone Tire and Rubber Company built the factory in 1972.
The tentative agreement involves six Bridgestone plants with the following local United Steelworkers chapters:
Local 310L, Des Moines, Iowa
Local 7L, Akron, Ohio
Local 787L, Bloomington, Illinois
Local 884L, Russellville, Arkansas
Local 1055L, La Vergne, Tennessee
Local 1155L, Warren County, Tennessee
United Steelworkers represents 850,000 men and women employed in manufacturing, metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply, and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in tech, public sector, and service occupations.
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About Bridgestone's La Vergne factory
Year built: 1972
Builder: Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
Year Bridgestone Americas bought La Vergne factory: 1983
Square feet of factory: 2.2 million
Acres for factory: 132
Location in La Vergne: Bridgestone Parkway off Waldron Road
Union representing the factory employees: United Steelworkers
Number of workers at La Vergne factory: 1,100
Number of direct Bridgestone workers: 900
Number of contract workers: 200
Source: Bridgestone Americas spokeswoman Emily Weaver
This article originally appeared on Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Bridgestone reaches tentative pay agreement with United Steelworkers