NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Union officials from around the world met in Nashville March 13-14 to pledge their support for the unionized workers-now members of the United Steelworkers of America-in their 20-month dispute with Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. Sixty-five trade union representatives from 15 countries representing the majority of Bridgestone Corp.'s workers attended the conference.
The meeting-called by the Steelworkers, together with the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Union (ICEM) and the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Department-presented a platform for union officials to devise a joint plan of attack against what they termed Bridgestone's ``union-busting'' activities in the U.S.
More than 1,000 of the unions' members marched March 14 outside Bridgestone/Firestone's Nashville headquarters. The workers demanded BFS immediately negotiate a ``reasonable and just'' master labor contract with the roughly 4,000 union members that struck five of the company's facilities in July 1994.
An estimated 800 to 900 workers have yet to be recalled since the Steelworkers ended its strike against BFS in May.
At the conclusion of the rally, union members at the entrance to the firm's headquarters set up ``Camp Justice''-a small number of tents to be staffed around-the-clock by union officials. Members from the five locations covered in the master contract and their families were to occupy the tents, distribute leaflets and hold demonstrations.
The union delegates also developed a global action plan that includes brief work stoppages and demonstrations inside and outside Bridgestone facilities.
``This (meeting) really helped us energize and coordinate efforts on our corporate campaign (against Bridgestone),'' a Steelworkers spokesman said. ``We're just getting tuned up here. There's a lot more to come.''