The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) said that it has ratified a new three-year contract at 14 Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. plants.

According to USWA, the agreement provides workers with a network of job security measures and implements a process whereby Goodyear will work with the union to create more efficient workplaces, maintain quality health care benefits and restructure its finances.

"We're pleased that we reached an agreement with Goodyear that makes our union a true partner in the future success of the company, " said USWA International president Leo W. Gerard.

The company's Huntsville, AL plant will be closed. The union said members with 25 or more years of service will receive lump sum payments in addition to their basic and shutdown-enhanced pension benefits. Those with less than 25 years will receive a severance package that includes special weekly payments for an extended period.

As part of the agreement, 12 of Goodyear's plants were designated as protected, and must under "all but the most extreme circumstances" remain open during the terms of the agreement and minimum-staffing levels must be maintained. A 13th plant in Tyler, TX, has partial-protected status and will obtain protected status once it reaches certain goals, the union said.