Tom Duzak Retires as Chair of Goodyear Retiree Healthcare Trust, Committee Elects Chad Apaliski

Tom Duzak, one of the architects of an innovative and hugely successful effort to protect retiree health care benefits, retired as chairperson of the Goodyear Retiree Healthcare Trust on June 30.

He will be succeeded by Chad Apaliski, a senior technician in the USW’s Collective Bargaining, Research and Benefits Department.

Duzak served as chair of the trust since its inception, a result of the 2006 collective bargaining agreement between the USW and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and then ensuing litigation.

“Dignity in retirement is one of our union’s highest priorities,” said International President Tom Conway. “Tom helped make this a reality for tens of thousands of USW members and retirees through his hard work and dedication.

“The sad reality is we can’t always count on corporations to honor their commitments or prioritize retirees, but where they fail, our union can and will succeed. At Goodyear, like so many other workplaces, it was up to us to find creative solutions and protect our members – and Tom was a big part of that."

Strike leads to historic save

Throughout the 2006 negotiations, the USW and its 16 local unions made affordable retiree health care a centerpiece of bargaining, insisting 30,000 retirees and surviving spouses continued to receive insurance.

Instead, the company sought to remove liabilities on their balance sheets for the benefit of Wall Street analysts and shareholders.

Goodyear insisted on implementing a cap on its retiree health care costs, a change that would have greatly increased the costs for retirees, threatening their ability to afford insurance.

But the union refused to back down, instead fighting for the retirees of a company that promised them health care after a lifetime of service.

USW members went on strike against Goodyear on Oct. 5, 2006, and one of the primary reasons was to preserve retiree health insurance for active and retired members.

When the strike concluded, the settlement laid the foundation of what became the Goodyear Retiree Healthcare Trust, which to this day provides retiree health care benefits.

Innovation and perseverance

The Goodyear Retiree Healthcare Trust was innovative in its design and execution, allowing Goodyear to remove liability for retiree health care from its balance sheet, while still requiring a $1 billion initial contribution from the company as well as ongoing payments.

This arrangement was one of the first of its kind outside of the bankruptcy process.

It faced court challenges, however, and it was not until August 2008, after a court-approved settlement, that the trust was officially created.

Actuaries’ initial projections showed that Goodyear’s contribution could be exhausted by 2020, leading Mr. Duzak and the other eight members of the trust committee to begin their work to make the trust last longer.

With the help of the trust’s investment manager, actuary, benefit consultants, outside counsel and administrator, the funds far outlasted that initial projection. As of 2021, the trust had close to $860 million in assets – a testament to the tireless work led by Duzak.

William Jerry Ivey, an original USW-appointed committee member to the trust and retiree from USW Local 878 in Union City, Tenn., recalled the long hours Duzak spent reviewing documents, studying requests for proposals from insurance companies, and checking language to make sure members received benefits with the least cost to the fund.

“Tom was very committed to our retired members and making sure our Healthcare Trust was secure for present and future retirees,” Ivey said. “I, as a retiree of Goodyear, beneficiary of this trust and USW member, commend his dedication to the USW retirees and the loyalty and support of the USW that he has shown over the past 16 years."

The fund not only supports the Goodyear retirees, spouses, surviving spouses and dependents currently receiving benefits, but will also benefit active USW members at five Goodyear locations that could be eligible for benefits upon their retirements.

Apaliski elected

Trust committee members elected Chad Apaliski to replace Duzak as trust chair.

Over his 25-year career at the USW, Apaliski participated in and provided technical economic, financial, benefits and costing support in numerous negotiations, including large employers such as Dana Corporation and Cleveland-Cliffs (formerly ArcelorMittal).  He also participated in negotiations with Goodyear since 2006, including last summer’s historic settlement.

In addition to financial, industry and macro-economic analysis for the USW, Apaliski works with VEBA trusts, with his work laying the groundwork for the creation of the USW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Trust in 2007-2008.

Since then, he has participated in the creation of the Jernberg Steelworkers Retiree Health Care Trust, the Century Aluminum Hawesville Retiree Health Care Reimbursement Trust and the Cleveland-Cliffs Steel LLC Post-2025 VEBA Trust.  He serves as a committee member in these three trusts, as well as a committee member of the VEBA for Retirees of WCI Steel.

“We all wish Tom the best in his well-earned retirement,” said Conway. “And we know current and future retirees at Goodyear are in good hands with Chad.”

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