CINCINNATI (Sept. 28) — The United Steelworkers union, viewing the current negotiating scenario with Goodyear as "bleak," is getting closer to calling for a strike at 12 company tire and rubber product plants.
Negotiators for both sides have been meeting on and off in Cincinnati since June, and they´ve made little progress or found common ground on the major issues, which include plant protection and retiree health care benefits.
The latest Goodyear proposal on retiree health care, presented to the USW on Sept. 25, was unacceptable, a union spokesman said.
The USW was expected to respond with its own comprehensive contract proposal Sept. 29, the spokesman said. If the situation doesn´t change, the union sees no reason to continue talking, and "the company may force us to strike," he said.
The USW spokesman gave no timeline for when a walkout might occur, but did say a "deadline is fast approaching."
About 12,600 workers at the unionized Goodyear sites have been working on a contract extension since July 18; the three-year master contract covering the workers at the Goodyear plants was to expire July 22.
Either side may terminate the extension agreement with 72 hours notice. The union earlier this summer conducted strike authorization votes at the Goodyear locals, with the membership at each site overwhelmingly approving action if necessary.