CINCINNATI (June 30) — The United Steelworkers union has selected Michelin North America´s BFGoodrich tire manufacturing unit as the "target" company for 2006 master contract negotiations in the tire and rubber industry, the union announced today.
A nine-man panel made up of representatives from USW bargaining committees engaged in talks with Michelin, Bridgestone/Firestone and Goodyear voted today in Cincinnati, where Goodyear meetings are being held.
The union believes that through an agreement with BFGoodrich the two sides "can set an industry pattern that looks after our retirees, enhances job security and protects the standard of living for our active and retired members" said Ron Hoover, USW executive vice president and head of the union´s Rubber/Plastics Industry Conference.
The purpose of pattern agreements is to provide a level playing field for employers when it comes to the cost of labor, the USW said.
Traditionally, after the target company is chosen, negotiations between the union and that tire maker take center stage and the talks among the other firms recess. Once an agreement is reached with the target company, it is used as the pattern for settlement in the negotiations at the other two bargaining tables.
In the 2003 round of negotiations — which stretched into the summer of 2005 — Goodyear was selected as the target and the union and company reached accord in September 2003. However, both BFS and Michelin resisted following the pattern. Locals in the BFG chain eventually ratified a contract in August 2004 and BFS locals ratified their deals in June 2005.
The Steelworkers chose BFS as the target in 2000 and Goodyear in 1997.
Negotiations among all three tire makers and the union began earlier this month. The BFGoodrich talks are taking place in Knoxville, Tenn., and the master contract — which expired July 22 — covers about 3,400 workers in three facilities.
The USW Goodyear/Kelly-Springfield/Dunlop negotiations cover 12,400 members at eight tire plants and four rubber product plants in the U.S. The negotiations with Bridgestone-Firestone are being held in St. Louis and cover 6,000 workers in eight U.S. plants. The expiration date for those pacts is also July 22.