ST. LOUIS (July 20) — The United Steelworkers rejected Bridgestone/Firestone´s offer to extend the master contract — which lapses at 12:01 a.m. July 23 — because the company did not want to extend the job security portions of the pact.
BFS, which plans to close its Oklahoma City tire plant this year, said it understood the USW´s objection, but extending that portion of the agreement indefinitely would "make it impossible" for the company to take necessary steps to help ensure its financial and competitive well-being.
"Decisions about plant staffing, production and other items must be based on market conditions and should not be guaranteed by contract nor by contract extensions," BFS said in a statement. "Guaranteeing conditions such as these is incompatible with our need to make our North American tire production facilities globally competitive and profitable."
The USW said it is encouraging its BFS members to continue to report to work after the deadline. The two sides agreed to recess negotiations until the pattern is established, and BFS acknowledged that with the exception of job security language and a few other issues, the terms of the contract would stay in effect, the union said.
The company´s extension offer for a separate agreement with workers at its Warren County, Tenn., tire plant also was rejected, but was accepted for pacts at the Bloomington, Ill., off-the-road tire plant and with the maintenance group at the LaVergne, Tenn., facility, BFS said. Those extensions can be canceled with five days written notice.
The union represents about 6,000 hourly workers at eight BFS tire and rubber product sites.
Goodyear extended its agreement with the union covering about 12,600 workers at 12 tire and rubber product plants on July 18. The day-to-day extension can be terminated with 72-hour notice.
Negotiations between Michelin North America Inc.´s BFGoodrich tire unit — the industry bargaining target — and the Steelworkers are expected to continue into the weekend.