Here's hoping this opinion is dated because events changed after it was written. Of course, it's about the United Steelworkers union walkout at Goodyear.
The ``win-win'' cliche won't have any credence if this dispute isn't settled quickly. ``Lose-lose'' might be more appropriate, but particularly for the union.
The contract dispute centers on issues like health care, pensions and retiree benefits, all big money issues. But most of all it's about job security, or the lack of it in the view of the Steelworkers.
Goodyear doesn't want to guarantee all its tire plants will stay open during the life of the next contract. In fact, the USW says the company wants to deny closure protection for up to three tire factories.
If that's true, it means Goodyear might have determined that it has too many plants in the U.S., period. If one or more doesn't go now, they will later.
Goodyear is no different than any major tire maker today: It's a global company, and it wants-needs-the lowest possible production costs to survive in a highly competitive industry. The company is based in the U.S., and employs many Americans, but that has zero influence on its business strategy. No one gets a free pass in an industry where cost is king.
You can make a case there are no major American tire makers anymore, just two manufacturers, Goodyear and Cooper, that happen to be based in the U.S. They are no different than their foreign-owned brethren, Bridgestone/Firestone, Michelin, Pirelli and Continental-if it is a cost disadvantage to make tires here, rather than, say, China or Brazil, they will move production to those areas. That's why the lower-profit lines rapidly are moving to overseas sites.
The basic, most difficult fact the USW faces is that the standard of living in the U.S. is higher than in emerging nations. Until these nations develop closer to the level of the U.S. living standards, and therefore have higher worker wages and benefits, they will have a cost advantage that an American basic manufacturer can't match.
Goodyear shares that reality with the USW. Together they have to find a way around it.