INDIANAPOLIS-The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. must rehire all of the union members who participated in a 10-month strike against BFS that ended May 22. The NLRB announced Nov. 21 it had converted the walkout-the industry's longest-from an economic action to an unfair labor practice strike, according to Roberto Chavarry, acting regional director of NLRB Region 25 in Indianapolis, which made the ruling.
Failure to recall all the workers, he said, ``starts the clock running for back pay from the time they unconditionally agreed to return to work (May 22).''
The NLRB plans to issue a formal complaint to the tire maker, alleging the firm violated the National Labor Relations Act by sending letters notifying workers they had been permanently replaced when vacancies still existed in the strikers' job classifications, and by refusing to reinstate strikers as the action had converted to an unfair labor practice strike.
While the union said it feels vindicated, BFS plans to fight Region 25's decision, taking the case before an NLRB administrative judge and through other legal channels if necessary, a BFS spokesman said.
``We believe the decision will not be upheld, as the theory behind it is contrary to existing NLRB law,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, it raises expectations that in our opinion will not be upheld.''
On July 12, 1994, about 4,000 members of the former United Rubber Workers union struck BFS facilities in five cities.
In January, Nashville, Tenn.-based BFS began hiring about 2,300 strikebreakers; 1,100 of the 4,000 strikers have yet to be reinstated, it said. About 1,300 crossed the picket line and returned to work and more than 500 retired during or after the dispute.
Last March the NLRB converted a strike at two Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. plants to an unfair labor practice strike. PATC later recalled the 1,000 workers involved.