AKRON-Members of United Rubber Workers Local 915 at Dunlop Tire Corp.'s Huntsville, Ala., tire plant have rejected two tentative agreements to end their strike, in progress since June 21 and recently marked by violence. And officials of URW Local 1023 at Yokohama Tire Corp.'s Salem, Va., facility turned their back's on the company's latest offer after two weeks of negotiation, prompting Yokohama to hire 50-100 ``temporary'' workers.
Meanwhile, Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. has hired about 100 more replacement workers and fired seven union members they charge were involved in violence.
About 4,200 hourly employees at Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. continue their strikes with no plans for upcoming negotiations with company officials.
In fact, no negotiations currently are scheduled between the URW and any of the tire makers being struck.
In Huntsville, union members voted Sept. 10 to reject a tentative pact to end the nearly 3-month-old work stoppage by a 2-to-1 margin. The membership had voted down the first tentative agreement Sept. 1 by just seven votes.
After the narrow defeat of the first proposal, a rumor circulated that 400 workers planned to cross the picket line and return to work.
That possibility prompted more than 800 union members to gather outside the Huntsville Plant at 4 a.m. on Sept. 6.
Although no union workers crossed the picket line, about 200 salaried and replacement workers did, and shouting and yelling by members escalated to brick throwing. In total, 124 cars reportedly were damaged and seven people sought medical help for minor injuries incurred during the incident. None were hospitalized.
Around 5:50 a.m. about 75 to 80 police officers arrived on scene in riot-control gear, wielding batons and firing tear gas into the crowd, said Dan Knoch, a spokesman for Local 915.
Three workers who sat down in and blocked the road were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Another worker also was charged with disorderly conduct, according to Capt. Dennis Wooten of the Huntsville Police Department.
``Marbles and large ball bearings were being rocketed from slingshots,'' Mr. Wooten said. ``At least four Molotov cocktails were thrown, along with concrete blocks and bricks. We had to take action. People were getting injured and property was being damaged.''
Dunlop's Patrick Logue, vice president of marketing, said the company is ``very disturbed'' by the incident.
``We understand that many people feel justified in expressing their frustration,'' he said, ``but there is never an excuse for this type of violence by a few radicals.''
With regard to the second tentative agreement, a major point of contention remains a proposed move to an eight-hour work schedule for most employees from a 12-hour one. Hourly employees at the factory strongly prefer the 12-hour shifts, which allow for four-day weekends and more days off, said Ron Hollingsworth, Local 915 vice president.
For Yokohama workers, a major issue is a company proposal to schedule workers hired after 1984 on the weekend, when the current contract calls only for employees hired after 1991.
Local union officials refused to recommend the company's latest offer, accusing Yokohama of trying to destroy the seniority system, according to Mike S. Amos, vice president of Local 1023.
Tensions also are rising at Pirelli Armstrong, where workers have been on strike since July 15.
PATC increased the number of replacements to 80 from 30 at both its Hanford, Calif., and Nashville, Tenn., tire facilities.
On Sept. 8, the company sent termination of employment letters to the seven workers accused of acts of violence during the walkout, and offered permanent employment to the recently hired replacement workers.
The company's actions have further united members of Local 670 in Nashville, according to Vice President John Johnson.
Mr. Johnson said the unnamed workers who were sent the termination letters deny any such actions and believe ``it's just another one of Pirelli's tactics to break us.''
A Pirelli Armstrong spokesman confirmed the letters were mailed, but declined further comment.
The company will continue to hire replacement workers at its factories to keep up with demand and with competitors whose tire facilities aren't on strike, the spokesman said.
If all URW locals currently on strike remain off the job, the union's strike fund could be depleted as early as late October, URW President Kenneth L. Coss said earlier. But the union is considering implementing measures to beef up the fund, including asking all members to donate $25 a paycheck to the effort.
``The people at Firestone aren't striking just for Firestone,'' Mr. Coss said at a news conference discussing the Bridgestone/Firestone situation. ``They're striking for the entire industry.''