CINCINNATI (March 13, 2003)—Goodyear and the United Steelworkers of America kicked off the 2003 rubber industry master contract negotiations today by opening bargaining sessions in Cincinnati.
The talks involve 14 USWA locals representing about 20,000 members working at Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly-Springfield tire and rubber facilities in the U.S. Master contracts with workers at Goodyear and Dunlop plants lapse April 19; the Kelly pact expires July 6.
The union begins negotiations with the other “Big Three” U.S. tire companies—Michelin North America Inc. and Bridgestone/Firestone—within the week as well. Their contracts expire April 23. A target company—one with which the union sets a bargaining pattern which is traditionally followed by the other makers—won't be selected for several weeks, but Goodyear said it wants to be chosen.
Financially troubled Goodyear opened up its books for the USWA to examine prior to the talks so the union would “have all the facts,” a spokesman for the tire maker said.
The company—the largest employer of USWA members—doesn't want another firm to determine the contract standards and thus put its business and employees in jeopardy, the spokesman said.
The union said it is looking to confront Goodyear and the other tire companies on several issues during negotiations this year, particularly investment in North American plants, overseas production, pension funding, neutrality and medical and drug costs.