ST. LOUIS—Contract talks between Bridgestone/Firestone and the United Steelworkers of America restarted the week of Jan. 10 after negotiators took a holiday break.
The participants probably will meet in St. Louis Jan. 11, a BFS spokesman said. The discussions will pick up where two weeks of sessions left off in December.
While he couldn´t comment on how the talks were progressing when they recessed last month, the spokesman said from the company´s perspective it was a positive step to get back to the table and discuss the pertinent issues.
"Ultimately, we want to define a contract that will help keep our business successful and be good for our teammates," he said.
The December meetings marked the first negotiations between the two sides in more than a year. The USWA walked out on master contract discussions in November 2003, claiming BFS´ proposals didn´t address important items—including job security, import restriction and neutrality—from the agreement Goodyear completed in September 2003.
The union also negotiated three-year contracts covering about 4,400 workers with Michelin North America Inc.´s BFGoodrich tire manufacturing units in August.
A USWA spokesman said the key to reaching an agreement with BFS will be plant investment, because it was the cornerstone to the Goodyear and Michelin contracts. "It´s something we can´t walk away from," he said.
The BFS master contract expired in April 2003. About 6,000 workers at eight U.S. tire and rubber sites have been working on day-to-day extensions since then.
The USWA also is negotiating with Yokohama Tire Corp. for a new contract for workers at the company´s Salem, Va., tire plant. Midterm reopener discussions with Continental Tire North America Inc. begin the week of Jan. 10 in Nashville, Tenn.