ST. LOUIS (Nov. 18)—Negotiators for Bridgestone/Firestone and the United Steelworkers of America will get back to the bargaining table for the first time in more than a year beginning Dec. 6 in St. Louis, the two sides announced Nov. 18.
The company and union met Nov. 16-17 in St. Louis to see if there was common ground to commence contract talks, and those meetings were constructive enough to spur more discussions, a USWA spokesman said. The company is pleased they're taking the next step to reopen the lines of communication, a BFS spokesman said.
The three-year master contract covering about 6,000 unionized workers at eight U.S. BFS tire and rubber plants expired in April 2003. Employees have been working on day-to-day extensions since then.
BFS and the USWA began talks prior to the contract's expiration last year, but put off further discussions while the union focused its contract negotiations with Goodyear, the industry target.
Bargaining restarted after the Goodyear agreement was completed in September 2003, but the union walked away from discussions in November 2003, claiming BFS' proposals didn't address important items from the Goodyear contract.
The USWA has subsequently reached a three-year agreement with Michelin North America Inc.'s BFGoodrich tire manufacturing unit, which employs about 3,400 union workers at three U.S. factories.
Talks are continuing with Yokohama Tire Corp. regarding workers at its Salem, Va., radial tire plant, the USWA spokesman said, and progress is being made. The six-year contract with Yokohama expired in July 2003.