CINCINNATI (Aug.15, 2003)—Goodyear intended to announce its financial “turnaround” plan if it hadn't reached a tentative contract agreement with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) by “mid day” Aug. 15.
Jim Allen, Goodyear director of global labor relations and chief negotiator, told the USWA bargaining committee Aug. 13 if the deadline isn't met, Goodyear will begin implementing its cost-cutting plan to improve the company financially.
It is not the intention of the company to break off negotiations, and it is not giving 72-hour notice to halt the day-to-day extensions unionized employees have been working under for months, a Goodyear spokesman said. The Akron tire maker has been holding off on announcing its proposed changes to let the bargaining process take its course and now believes it must move forward, he said.
“They want the process to be completed, we want it to be completed,” the Goodyear spokesman said. “We believe we can still reach a settlement, but we also need to take the first steps toward success and profitability.”
The spokesman didn't discuss specifics of Goodyear's plan, but the company has made it known it needs to make cost cuts in the $1.5 billion range, including about $915 million in labor concessions over a three-year span.
While it didn't set a deadline, the USWA did say Aug. 11 on its Web site that if a settlement wasn't reached during the coming week, it would implement “alternative contingency plans...designed to increase the pressure on the company.”
The company and union have been negotiating in Cincinnati since March 13, not counting the period between June 28 and Aug. 6, when talks were broken off. When talks resumed Aug. 6, the union rejected one company proposal, then made a counteroffer Aug. 9 that was discussed but not agreed upon.
Both sides have said progress has been made during the latest round of talks, but the union still is disappointed on the lack of movement in some of the key contract issues, including job security for the 14 plants covered by the master agreements; financial restructuring; and health care coverage for active and retired USWA members.
The USWA chose Goodyear as its target company for tire industry negotiations on April 7. The union represents nearly 20,000 employees at the 14 Goodyear, Kelly-Springfield and Dunlop tire and rubber sites.