WASHINGTON-Less than a month after absorbing the former United Rubber Workers union, the United Steelworkers of America announced an even more massive merger with two brother unions. ``I feel very good about it,'' USWA President George Becker said July 27 at a press conference celebrating his union's planned merger with the United Auto Workers and the International Association of Machinists.
This unification, to be phased in over the next five years, will create the largest industrial union in the U.S., according to official publicity. The new union will have 2 million active and 1.4 million retired members.
The merger with the former URW-now the Rubber and Plastics Conference of the USWA-gave the parent union the confidence to go ahead with the merger with the UAW and IAM, according to Mr. Becker.
Kenneth L. Coss, former URW president and now executive vice president of the USWA Rubber and Plastics Conference, played ``a leadership position'' in the plans for the new merger, Mr. Becker added.
Representatives of the rubber industry were guarded in their reactions to the prospect of eventual dealings with a 2 million-member union, as opposed to the 94,000-member former URW.
``(W)e have shown in the past our willingness to work with unions,'' Goodyear said in a prepared statement. ``Regardless of whether that union is the URW, USWA or this new merged labor organization, it does not change our primary goal of working together to meet the needs of our customers, shareholders and associates.''
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., the object of a current USWA boycott over the issue of hiring striker replacements, was even less forthcoming. ``We shall just have to wait and see the results of these proposals,'' the company said. ``But we will, of course, work with whichever union that represents the unionized employees in our company.''