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BFNT, union will head back to the bargaining table March 12

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Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) and the United Steelworkers of America are taking a break from contract talks to review issues pertaining to negotiations, including retiree health care, "an important and complex issue," according to a Bridgestone/Firestone spokesman. The break is scheduled to end March 12.

When asked to confirm reports that BFNT and the union are considering the establishment of an independent health care trust similar to Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s recently created VEBA fund, he said "we're open to all options. We have to be open minded in exploring all options to produce a solution that's good for retirees and allows the company to be successful."

BFNT and the union officially resumed contract talks on Jan. 30 in hopes of forging a new contract for seven Bridgestone/Firestone plants, including five tire facilities and two industrial products facilities.

The tire plants are located in Akron, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Bloomington, Ill.; and Warren County and La Vergne, Tenn.

The industrial products plants include an air spring manufacturing facility in Noblesville, Ind., plus a factory in Russellville, Ark.

Negotiators also will discuss issues pertaining to last month's shuttering of BFNT's Oklahoma City, Okla., plant.

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