Thursday, April 12, 2007

Has The Good at GOODYEAR Just About Gone ? An Open Letter !

Has the Good at Goodyear just about Gone ?
Goodyear -who are we? I remember when people used to talk and use the words "Goodyear family" when they spoke of fellow Goodyear associates. It may have been born from the generational workforce that was commonplace but it never stopped there. It was a contagious spirit marked by a smile, a sense of belonging, a sense of accomplishment. Your performance expectations were high whether you were on-the-job or off-­the-job. Our "good" name depended on it. Nowadays, it seems those days are dwindling. There is the "Union" and the "Company': And they address each other in their communications like it's the Revolutionary War, "North vs. the South", yet their paychecks both say Goodyear in the corner. There is a "Salaried" workforce who's constant strife with the decisions of "Upper Management" has sounded like a skipping record in the GY lunchrooms over the past 5 years. And there is the mythic "Board of Directors" (does anyone really know who these people are?) that insist on fanning the flames eve/y time they open the Goodyear cash registers to pay our "highly compensated employees" an even larger Bonus. The Salaried workforce was called upon to fill the shoes of Union men and women who went on strike in 2006. Many Salaried workers volunteered for it even though it required a commitment of 12hrs/day from Sunday thru Saturday. And if you got the 12am to 12pm shift, it really took it's toll on you, but people hung in there. Some even accepted a relocation out of the Akron offices to go to a plant in another state while their spouses and children remained put. A lot of people did it for the paycheck but some did it just to help out, to keep our customers getting the tires they needed. The Salaried workforce has been working hard in recent years to achieve "corporate" campaigns like LEAN, 6 Sigma, No one gets hurt ... all the while still outputting some of the best-in-class work any tire company has ever known. Every organization, be it Sales, Engineering, Tire Technology, Marketing, Research, Finance, Legal, et aI, has continued to step up to the plate and hit every curve ball it was thrown, back out into the outfield. We endured staffing reductions in 2003 that were unprecedented. Making promises to meet objectives with less people to share the load and with department budgets that have been tightened over and over again. Travel has been restricted to absolute zero in some areas, as if we have been huddled into a basement waiting for a hurricane to pass over. On a personal level, I know of employees who have poured their hearts into their work, burning the candle at both ends sometimes, to see their projects lift off. I know of people who have even used their own PERSONAL vacation days to get out of the office so they could conduct Goodyear business they felt was critical but some manager did not. The sacrifices number in the thousands. And how are we repaid- like we are the laughing stock of the company. Except nobody on this end is laughing. The Board of Directors-Upper Management has become a disgrace to this company. But who am I to judge, ask our former CEO's and Upper Managers what they think ... you might be surprised what they think you are doing to our "good" name. What kind of conscience does it take, to hit every employee and retiree below the belt on their Medical and Pension Plans, and then the NEXT WEEK, grant MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of dollars to the top brass of the company. Talk about donning Roman armor and pillaging the villages! The Board reportedly gives Keegan 30 years of service on the DA Y HE IS HIRED, a FREE medical plan, plus more ... and then on top of that, during one year of tenure, 2006, they give him (one man) a compensation package worth, $17,300,000? This is close I am told to what Goodyear gave it's ENTIRE Salaried workforce in the matching 401 k program in 2002, the last year before the benefit was cancelled. The new matching program that is coming is sub-standard compared to that previous plan. What accomplishments has our Board of Directors-Upper Management made recently? Well let's see. Sold our rubber plantations for some cold cash. Put our entire Engineered Products Divisions on the auction block. Sold our fabric mills for some more cash. Announce the closing of a tire plant in Texas. WOW- sounds like a company in need of tightening the belt; right? Must have taken some real geniuses to figure this one out- let's just yard sale this bleeding pig before the whole ship goes down! What kind of college degree does this take? Because I think I might qualify! Who was it that said "cash is king"? It was Mr. Keegan himself in his documented “7 Reasons to Believe" that he gave us. I believe it now. He just cashed a Bonus checked that was not 10%, not 50%, not even 100% of his salary. It was DOUBLE his salary. Hmmm ... what was the justification again, "to attract and retain top talent and align... interest with shareholders". So what about aligning interests with Goodyear employees? Does anybody give a damn about the lack of morale inside the Goodyear confines, caused by these type of compensation packages? Those of us in the rank and file are getting about 2-3% raise in our salary, when times are good. This is the thank-you we get? Not even retirees from the past 16 years are safe from the Medical plan changes. (effective 1-1-08). And a frozen pension plan awaits anyone who plans to retire from here on out. After all the hours many Salaried workers have given without OT pay, for keeping the plants running during the 2006 Union strike, for telling our spouses we'll be late for dinner over and over again ... I am beginning to understand the Union's sentiment now and why they address the "Company" just as such. Some tough decisions have to be made to run the business, that is granted. But who is keeping check on their ethicality? Goodyear is saying one thing but then doing another. The concepts of LEAN have been pushed through every facet of the business, to look for ways of doing things more and more efficiently. It was stated that the Pension Plan was frozen because, "Changes in interest rates and market fluctuations make the associated accounting ... unpredictable and increasingly difficult to budget and manage effectively."So instead of stepping up efforts, Goodyear executives have decided to bludgeon every single employee now with the responsibility to prepare for their golden years. How inefficient is this !? And how many hours/week are you planning to give us for training that is necessary to properly manage this, as our livelihoods will now depend on it? Is this going to just be more take-home work for me? Goodyear whether they realize or not is sending the message- We enjoyed you while you are here. Thanks for your intellectual property. Thanks for reducing the complexity of our business. Thanks for maintaining our customer base. Thanks for the computer systems you dedicated yourself to perfecting. But so long sucker! the day you retire. And it is a shame. As one friend put it, “it seems all the advantages for coming to a large company are gone, and all the disadvantages are still here. " Just because it is legal doesn't make it right. Goodyear was built on the backs of many individuals with some of the best talents around. Heaven forbid, a board member sitting in some cozy leather chair to say "NO" over a compensation decision in the future that is as strongly biased as these most recent ones. Or some other highly compensated employee saying “you know what, it isn't fair to everyone who helped me get to this point for me to accept this. " We are not asking you to part the Red Sea. We are asking for fairness, that you might recognize the ''top talent" that exists on all levels of the organization. You want to knock the socks off the competition? You want to perpetuate the greatness that you have been getting from every individual here? You have no idea what this company is capable of until you begin showing that "what is good for the goose, is also good for the gander". Tonight I will go home to eat with my family ... on time. There I have a loving wife and a daughter who give me all the enthusiasm I need to go back to work tomorrow, and get through these troubling days. Tonight I will go to sleep praying for a "Company" that has the all the potential in the world to mend it's broken ways. One where the formula for success is so simple, we don't need to hire any consultant group to tell us that it is the right thing to do ... Begin treating Goodyear employees like they ARE a part of something bigger than themselves again, something truly "Good", something we were ALL made to believe at the time we were hired into this company.

Jim Kish
Goodyear Engineer 3-12-07
Editorial : Mr. Kish, I do not know you personally, but right on ! And "Thank You" ! I could not have said it any better ! God Bless !
"Saving America"