Union's top concern in 2006: job security

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The United Steelworkers cite job security as their top concern during upcoming negotiations with tire companies in 2006. Steelworker labor contracts with Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC, Continental Tire North America Inc., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Michelin North America Inc. expire this year.

"We recognixe how technology and work reorganization can improve productivity, but we expect management to become efficient as well, while recognizing our expertise," Ron Hoover, United Steelworkers executive vice president told members of the union's Rubber/Plastic Industry Conference earlier this week.

"The most important key to enhancing productivity is investing the money necessary to keep plants modern."

The union established its "four basic elements for job security and protection" during this week's meeting:

* "eliminating the contracting out of bargaining unit work."

* "attaining a successorship clause which guarantees that in the event of a plant sale, the buyer will recognize the union and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement."

* "reducing the level of overtime to maintain the health and safety of current employees and to create new opportunities for other workers."

* "acquiring capital investment expenditures for plants to keep them globally competitive."

Other bargaining priorities include:

* neutrality/card check policies ("the decision to joing a union should be left entirely to a worker, with no involvement whatsoever by the company").

* pension plan increases and securing improvements for retiress and surviving spouses.

"We will face serious challenges in (upcoming) negotiations that will go far in defining our future, but there is no way we will allow our retirees to become sacrificial lambs in the process," says Hoover.

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