Goodyear and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) will resume master contract negotiations in Cincinnati early the week of Aug. 4 after disbanding talks only five weeks earlier.
The company and union haven't met since USWA negotiators rejected Goodyear's final offer June 28. The two sides had been meeting in Cincinnati since March 13.
The bargaining committees will discuss a new proposal different from the company's last offer, a USWA spokesman said. A Goodyear spokesman didn't say if there would be changes to the company's final proposal but said the Akron tire maker was ``willing to discuss different ways to reach solutions beneficial to both sides.''
Jon Rich, president of Goodyear's North American Tire unit, said technically the company's offer was still on the table, but negotiators wouldn't go back to bargaining ``if we weren't ready to negotiate again.'' The two sides talked informally during the break to further explain and discuss their offers, he said.
``Both sides recognize how important this is,'' Mr. Rich said. ``To continue to have this standoff is not good for either side.''
The decision to return to the table was mutual, and Goodyear views it as a positive development, the Goodyear spokesman said. The USWA's Goodyear policy committee met in Pittsburgh July 28-29 to discuss the members' collective options before agreeing to reconvene with the company, the union spokesman said.
During the 31/2 months of talks, the company and union couldn't find common ground on critical issues such as job security, investment in unionized North American production facilities, debt restructuring, reduction of management positions and retiree benefits.
The USWA said Goodyear's offer fell short on those issues, while the company said the proposal was fair and addressed the areas pertinent to both sides.
The union has said it won't accept a contract that doesn't provide guarantees for job security and maintaining production at unionized North American sites. But Goodyear has felt the pressure from its financial woes and seeks cost reductions in the $1.5 billion range-more than $900 million from contract concessions over a three-year span.
Goodyear's second-quarter results, released July 30, revealed a corporate net loss of $73.6 million and a North American Tire unit operating loss of $2 million. Net sales for the quarter increased 8 percent to $3.76 billion.
The company also lost $1.1 billion in 2002 and $163.3 million in the first quarter of 2003.
The nearly 20,000 USWA members at 14 Goodyear tire and rubber plants have been working under day-to-day contract extensions since their agreements lapsed. Either side can terminate the extensions by giving 72-hour notice.
North American tire competitors Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. and Michelin North America Inc. also are waiting for Goodyear and the union to reach an agreement. The union members at those firms' sites also are working under day-to-day extensions.
Goodyear was chosen as the target for industry negotiations April 7 to set a bargaining pattern for the other tire companies.