PITTSBURGH (April 8, 2003) — The United Steelworkers of America union has made Goodyear its target company for master contract negotiations this year. The USWA, which represents about 20,000 workers at Goodyear tire and rubber product plants in North America, claims Goodyear is asking for $915 million in wage and benefits concessions over a three-year span from workers and retirees.
Goodyear's position as the largest employer of Steelworkers and the union's decision to make job security via investment in North American plants its top bargaining priority were significant factors in the decision, said John Sellers, USWA executive vice president in charge of the Rubber/Plastics Industry Conference. The Akron-based tire maker—which reported a net loss in 2002 of $1.11 billion—was chosen over Michelin North America Inc. and Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc.
The union said it strongly rejects financially troubled Goodyear's plans to import more tires from its factories overseas—possibly at the expense of U.S. facilities. Goodyear officials have said the company plans to increase the number of imported tires to 10 million units this year from 4 million in 2002.
Jim Allen, director of global labor relations for Goodyear, said the negotiations are significant.
“We're all aware of Goodyear's financial situation,” he said. “We need to focus on solutions that will assist the company's recovery process.”
Goodyear's six-year master contract with the USWA expires April 19, as does its pact with two Dunlop tire plants. The company's agreement with workers at Goodyear's Kelly-Springfield unit lapses July 6.