PITTSBURGH (Aug. 12, 2004) — Negotiators for the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and Michelin North America's BFGoodrich tire manufacturing units agreed to continue negotiating past today's 12:01 a.m. strike deadline.
The two sides were making inroads via “intensive bargaining,” the USWA said in a statement released the evening of Aug. 11.
“While far from an agreement, we've made some progress and this has encouraged both parties to continue the process at least for now,” said John Sellers, USWA executive vice president. “We are prepared to continue these discussions for a short additional period as long as we believe progress is being made.”
The critical issues are the USWA's demand for long-term investment commitments in Michelin's unionized North American facilities and the company's desire to impose wage and benefit concessions on its work force as it seeks 18-percent cost reductions, the union said.
On Aug. 8, the USWA/BFGoodrich policy committee declared an Aug. 12 strike deadline if no agreement was reached. About 3,400 Michelin employees organized under the USWA at the company's tire facilities in Tuscaloosa and Opelika, Ala., and Fort Wayne, Ind., have been working on a contract extension since their previous master deal expired in April 2003.
Separate negotiations between the company and union also have been taking place in Pittsburgh regarding the strike at Michelin's Kitchener, Ontario, tire plant. About 1,000 workers walked out there in June.