Goodyear describes stalled talks as 'break'

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After negotiating for more than three months straight, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) have decided to take a break, according to a Goodyear spokesman.

Talks on a new labor contract between Goodyear and the USWA ended when a tentative labor agreement was not reached by June 27, a jointly agreed upon goal date.

"We made a lot of progress. I would say we got pretty close (to reaching a tentative agreement)," says Chuck Sinclair, senior vice president of global communications for Goodyear.

With the July 4 holiday week approaching, halting negotiations that had been going on since March 13 was not inappropriate, he says. "I would not characterize it as an impasse, I would characterize it as a break."

Although no date to resume negotiations has been set, Sinclair says the lines of communication with the USWA are open, and that Goodyear has been having informal conversations with union representatives since talks ended.

Yesterday, the union said it broke off negotiations after rejecting Goodyear's proposal (see "Union calls Goodyear offer unacceptable," a July 1 Web item). A USWA spokesman said Goodyear termed the proposal a "final offer." However, Sinclair says Goodyear is willing to discuss the offer on the table.

"From our perspective, it's just a matter of getting together and closing the gap from where we were at on (June 27)."

Contracts expired at 11 Goodyear plants in April; contracts at the tiremaker's three Kelly factories are set to expire on July 6.

As of the end of closing July 1, Goodyear's stock was trading at $5.30 a share, up five cents from the previous day.

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