PITTSBURGH (Feb. 6, 2003) — Job security.
That's labor's No. 1 issue in the upcoming master contract talks with the major tire manufacturers, according to the United Steelworkers of America's (USWA) top rubber industry official.
The union needs to confront the tire companies on investment in their unionized North American plants — an issue that directly affects workers' employment, said John Sellers, USWA executive vice president and head of the union's Rubber/Plastics Industry Conference. There is an obvious concern about tire makers taking production overseas where labor is cheap, and non-union facilities here and abroad have benefited from more money and better equipment, he said at the USWA R/PIC Policy Meeting held Feb. 3-5 in Pittsburgh.
“This is the most crucial round of bargaining we've had in many, many years,” Mr. Sellers said. Negotiations between the USWA and the Big Three tire makers in the U.S. — Goodyear, Michelin North America Inc. and Bridgestone/Firestone — will be in full swing by the middle of March.