BFNT, Steelworkers still at stalemate

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Ten months after walking away from the bargaining table, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) are still at odds with Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) regarding a new labor contract.

Both sides told that there are no plans to resume talks.

"We´re eager to get back to the table and get an agreement that´s in the best interests of both (organizations), but so far the USWA leadership has been reluctant to sit down and negotiate," says a BFNT spokesman.

Union members at five BFNT plants -- Des Moines, Iowa; Warren County, Tenn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; La Vergne, Tenn.; and a facility in Akron, Ohio -- are currently working on a day-to-day contract that can be canceled by either side with a five-day notice.

Relations broke down last November when union officials abruptly called off talks after rejecting a counter-proposal from BFNT.

The USWA accused BFNT of seeking major wage and benefit concessions. "Their proposal does not address job security," a USWA spokesman said at the time. "We don´t regard (BFNT´s) offer as a serious offer."

BFNT´s Bloomington, Ill., factory is unionized, but not part of the company´s master contract with the Steelworkers.

Last month, workers at four Michelin North America Inc.-owned BFGoodrich plants approved a new labor contract with the union that expires in July 2006.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. settled a three-year contract with the USWA approximately one year ago.

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