DECATUR, Ill.-About 700 striking United Rubber Workers members at Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s Decatur tire plant headed off plans to oust the union by voting 2-1 to unconditionally return to work. The May 7 vote by Local 713 came four months after a similar decision by URW Local 7 in Akron to unconditionally return to work. BFS has rehired about 100 of the Akron unit's 150 members.
When Local 7 broke ranks in January, members of the Decatur local were less than understanding. But now the union's strike fund is depleted and the strikers' unemployment benefits are about to run out in June.
Local 713 President Roger L. Gates said the move was more defensive, combating an effort by some permanent replacement workers and union members who earlier crossed the picket line to oust the union through a decertification vote. ``I've got a faction of people in my plant trying to get us decertified,'' he said. ``This will throw 700 (pro-union) votes into the pot.''
The URW said the Decatur local acted independently and that the 10-month strike at BFS plants in Noblesville, Ind.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Oklahoma City will continue, as will a URW boycott of Bridgestone/Firestone tires.