PITTSBURGH (Feb. 28) — Negotiators for Bridgestone/Firestone and the United Steelworkers plan to resume negotiations the week of March 12 after a short recess.
The two sides met in Pittsburgh, where the Steelworkers are headquartered, on Feb. 20-21, and planned on continuing talks there and in St. Louis, where formal negotiations traditionally have taken place. But BFS said it would need to postpone further meetings due to the unavailability of counsel and the need to do more research and costing, according to a letter to members from the union´s BFS policy committee posted on a USW Web site.
The February meetings covered a variety of issues in the contract talks, including retiree medical insurance, job security, improvements in the supplemental worker program, tiered wages, pensions and plant closure language for the workers at the BFS plant in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City facility produced its final tire in December.
The policy committee said in the letter that the meetings have been "generally positive."
The contracts covering about 6,000 hourly workers at eight BFS tire and rubber products plants expired in July, but talks with the company have primarily been on hold while the USW negotiated contracts with Michelin North America Inc´s BFGoodrich tire units and then Goodyear. BFG and the union reached a three-year accord covering about 3,400 workers in August.
Goodyear and the USW settled on a three-year deal in December, but not before about 15,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada staged an 86-day strike at 16 sites beginning in October. The U.S. master contract covers about 14,000 workers at 12 Goodyear facilities.