KITCHENER, Ontario (June 1)—About 1,000 production workers staffing Michelin North America (Canada) Inc.'s Goodrich tire unit in Kitchener went on strike at midnight May 31.
The company is asking for concessions in numerous areas, according to Wayne Fraser, director of United Steelworkers of America District 6, which covers Ontario and several other Atlantic provinces. Michelin wants its workers to contribute to health care benefits—something they haven't done before—accept job subcontracting, a two-tired wage system and lifetime caps on health benefits for future retirees, and allow changes in their cost-of-living agreement, Fraser said.
Workers belonging to USWA Local 677 began setting up pickets outside the Kitchener site at midnight when their three-year contract with Michelin expired. The campaign should quickly expand to the company's customers, Fraser said.
The Kitchener facility produces passenger and light truck radial tires. Its capacity is about 17,000 tires per day, according to Rubber & Plastics News' 2003 Global Tire Report. A lengthy strike by Local 677 could curtail about 20 percent of Michelin's Canadian production, the USWA claims.