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Goodyear gives contract talk update

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Jon Rich, president of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s North American Tire unit, says the company wants a contract that will enable it to "win with customers."

In an update on negotiations, released on July 14, Rich said:

"As you all likely know, the United Steelworkers (have) identified Michelin as the target for the current master contract bargaining.

"This means that the union will attempt to reach an agreement with Michelin that will serve as the template, or 'pattern agreement,' for contracts with other tiremakers."

The union set Goodyear as its pattern agreement target during 2003 negotiations.

"Still, this does not mean that our negotiations go on hiatus," Rich continued.

"We continue to meet with the USW in Cincinnati, Ohio, to make progress on a new contract for Goodyear.

"Each tiremaker has issues and concerns that are unique to itself and a 'template' agreement should not be mistaken as a 'one-size-fits-all' solution.

"As we have said from the beginning, our goal is to reach an agreement with the USW that helps us win with customers.

"To win with customers we must focus on reality: we must have a significantly lower cost structure in North America; we must have the highest productivity in the world; and we can no longer survive with future legacy liabilities for pensions and health care that are uncompetitive and unpredictable.

"Both sides must make the difficult choices necessary for Goodyear to succeed in North America and continue to provide jobs and benefits to thousands.

"Goodyear is deeply committed to the collective bargaining process and arriving at a resolution of the issues that is fair to all stakeholders."

Goodyear's existing contract with the union expires later this month.

In addition to Goodyear and Michelin, the union also is holding on-going talks with Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC.

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