WASHINGTON (Sept. 1)—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. is "working very hard" to avert a strike by the United Steelworkers of America, a company spokeswoman said in a media conference call. The deadline for Bridgestone/Firestone to reach an agreement with the union is 12:01 a.m. Sept. 2, but the spokeswoman said the company is "hopeful and confident we will reach an agreement prior to the deadline." To questions about what would happen to the recall effort if workers do strike, the spokeswoman said the tire maker "doesn´t accept the premise" of a strike, but added that as a matter of course the company has a contingency plan. She declined to discuss details of that plan. Bridgestone/Firestone Executive Vice President John Lampe expressed incredulity when a reporter told him that he had heard of a meeting between plant managers and the union local at one facility to discuss "the orderly and safe shutdown" of the plant in the event of the strike. "I do not understand any meeting about shutting a plant down, since our goal is to avoid a strike," he said.