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Goodyear stands 'at crossroads,' says Jon Rich

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"In 2006, like no other time in our history, we are standing at a crossroads for our company," Jon Rich, president of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s North American Tire division, recently wrote to Goodyear employees. Contract talks between Goodyear and the United Steelworkers started on June 9.

"From the beginning of our bargaining sessions, we will focus on reality: the way our world is, and not as it used to be or as we wish it would be.

"Global competition, already tougher than it has ever been, will only get tougher. Costs associated with pensions, benefits and health care must be competitive.

"Health care costs are rising more rapidly than our sales and profits," he explained. "We must be more productive, delivering products to our customers with speed. We have to do things faster than our competitors can copy."

Goodyear's current contract with the union, which expires on July 22, did not contain "fundamental changes required to permanently fix Goodyear," according to Rich.

"We face unprecedented challenges, and what we do in these negotiations will determine the future for all of us.

"To be successful, we must have the courage to make dramatic changes during this bargain. We all know what is at stake, and we must work together to find a solution that will allow us to win with customers and save North American jobs."

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