MORRISON, Tenn. (July 14, 2005) — Union workers are eyeing a July 22 strike date at Bridgestone/Firestone's Warren County, Tenn., truck and bus tire plant, unless some late negotiations yield a new agreement.
Nearly 800 members of United Steelworkers Local 1155 plan to walk out at 12:01 a.m. July 22 if no tentative pact is reached with the company, according to Van Tenpenny, the local's financial secretary. The
union needs to give five days written notice on its intent to strike, so it planned on sending its message to the company by July 14 or 15, he said.
Local 1155 members are making strike preparations and getting support from USW International staff in Pittsburgh as well as members from other BFS locals, Mr. Tenpenny said.
The two sides haven't negotiated since 85 percent of voting Local 1155 members rejected the company's “last, best” offer on June 17. But BFS and the union plan to meet July 19 to find some common bargaining ground, and Local 1155 members still are hopeful about reaching a settlement, Mr. Tenpenny said.
“The last thing anyone wants is a labor dispute,” he said. “We want to help the company make money. But we have some issues to work through. Helping to ebb the flow of outsourcing in our industry is a very key issue for us.”
BFS did reach contract agreements affecting more than 5,000 workers at seven other company tire and rubber plants last month. The Warren County contingent was among the locals included in the negotiations, though their pact is separate from the master contract covering six of the plants.
However, Local 1155 officials believed the company's offer was substandard for what their workers do, particularly given the Warren County plant's profitability.
BFS has an obligation to sit and listen to the union leaders, but it also believes its proposal to Local 1155 and the rest of the unionized work force was fair, a BFS spokesman said. “There is a lot in the offer to vote yes for,” he said. “The contract has been accepted and ratified by a majority of the workers and it's in the best interests of everyone concerned.”
The contract runs through July 23, 2006.