ST. LOUIS (June 9) — Negotiators for Bridgestone/Firestone and the United Steelworkers union have reached tentative agreements for new contracts covering eight U.S. tire and rubber plants and 6,000 hourly workers.
The union and company announced June 9 that recent talks have yielded several tentative pacts, including the master agreement covering four tire plants—in Akron; Des Moines, Iowa; LaVergne, Tenn.; and Oklahoma City—the Firestone tube plant in Russellville, Ark.; and the Firestone air spring plant in Noblesville, Ind. The separate contracts cover workers at BFS tire plants in Bloomington, Ill., and Warren County, Tenn., and a maintenance group in LaVergne, the company said.
Details will not be available until after the members have the opportunity to examine and discuss the proposed contracts at local meetings, the USW said. The company did say in a statement that it believes the agreements are reflective of its goal to "achieve contracts that are in the best interests of both parties."
Schedules for informational and ratification meetings have not yet been established.
The union had most recently set a bargaining deadline of May 28, after which its members would begin strike mobilization with a target walkout date near mid-July. But the two sides continued bargaining in St. Louis through Memorial Day weekend up to the announcement of the proposed agreements.
The two sides have been meeting sporadically since the spring of 2003, when their previous three-year contracts expired. Major sticking points have included job security and North American plant investment, import restrictions and neutrality.
In the meantime, the USW worked out new deals with several other tire makers, including Michelin North America Inc.´s BFGoodrich unit in August, Yokohama Tire Corp. in January and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in April.