PITTSBURGH (Oct. 5) — More than 15,000 union workers at 16 Goodyear tire and rubber product sites walked off the job at 1 p.m. Oct. 5, citing the company´s leaving them with no other option after lengthy contract negotiations.
The total includes more than 12,000 United Steelworkers members at 12 U.S. manufacturing plants covered by the three-year master contract that expired July 22. The workers had been working on a day-to-day extension since July 18, but on Oct. 2 the USW gave the company the required 72-hour notice that it was terminating the extension.
Hourly employees at four Goodyear sites in Canada also are participating in the strike.
The two sides have been far apart on many issues since beginning contract talks in June, particularly on job security and retiree health care. Goodyear´s offers declined to give full plant protection to all 12 U.S. sites, and the union said it won´t give in on the potential for closure at one or more plants — most likely among the Gadsden, Ala.; Tyler, Texas; and Fayetteville, N.C., tire facilities.
The USW said it already gave up a lot in the 2003 master contract negotiations, which led to the closure of the company´s unionized Huntsville, Ala., plant.
"We cannot allow additional plant closures after the sacrifices we made three years ago to help this company survive," said Ron Hoover, USW executive vice president and head of the union's Rubber/Plastics Industry Conference.
Goodyear said the union rejected a comprehensive proposal which would improve the company´s competitive position while maintaining a "substantial commitment to manufacturing in North America."
"We simply cannot accept a contract that knowingly creates a competitive disadvantage vs. our foreign-owned competition and increases our cost disadvantage vs. imports," said Jim Allen, Goodyear's chief negotiator.
The now-expired master contract between the USW and Goodyear covers workers at eight North American Tire plants and four Engineered Products sites. The tire manufacturing locations are in Akron; Gadsden, Ala.; Buffalo, N.Y., Topeka, Kan.; Tyler, Texas; Danville, Va.; Union City, Tenn.; and Fayetteville, N.C.
The non-tire locations include a molded products site in St. Marys, Ohio; a belt and hose plant in Lincoln, Neb.; a conveyor belting factory in Marysville, Ohio; and a hose product facility in Sun Prairie, Wis.
In addition, the Steelworkers are striking at four Canadian sites: a hose product plant in Collingwood, Ontario; a power transmission belting factory in Owen Sound, Ontario; and logistics and commercial/retread centers in Toronto.