AKRON-United Rubber Workers union members at Yokohama Tire Corp.'s plant in Salem, Va., ended their 75-day strike Oct. 5, approving a contract one week after rejecting an earlier tentative agreement. Elsewhere, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has filed an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming the United Rubber Workers have brought racism into the bargaining.
URW Local 1023 in Salem voted 418-298 to accept a contract that allows Yokohama more flexibility in its seven-day operating schedule. Under terms of the pact, those workers hired since Jan. 1, 1984, also are eligible for weekend work.
The three-year contract also includes some improvements in wages and benefits and continues the cost-of-living allowance. No details were available. ``We all worked very hard to accomplish this agreement and, while no agreement is perfect, we believe we have met the needs of the company and employees,'' said Richard Switzer, vice president of manufacturing.
The tire plant was to be operating at full capacity by Oct. 8.
Bridgestone/Firestone filed its NLRB charge Sept. 27 in Indianapolis, accusing the union of focusing on the company's Japanese ownership rather than the competitive problems facing it.
Throughout the strike, the URW has tried to characterize Bridgestone/Firestone as the ringleader of an ``unholy alliance'' of foreign-owned firms.
The company also cited a number of instances where union locals have referred to the Japanese in derogatory terms. For example, Local 713 in Decatur, Ill., put out a flier that complained about a proposal to take away the Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays, stating that many of the men and women honored on these days ``were killed by Japanese bombs and kamikaze pilots.''
``We could ignore it at first,'' a BFS spokesman said. ``But it was continuing and affected the chances of getting proper negotiations.'' The URW was unavailable for a reply.
No talks have been held since about 4,000 URW members went on strike July 12 at five BFS locations. Company-paid health care for those workers expired Oct. 10.
Bridgestone/Firestone has about 1,000 people working at the three tire plants being struck, including salaried, temporary and permanent replacement workers. Output is 25-30 percent of capacity.
Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. workers also remain on strike at two tire plants with no new talks scheduled.