So far, no strike at Goodyear

July 1, 2003

Negotiations on a contract between the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. have been halted. But on the first day of July, as a new chairman takes over at Goodyear, the union has yet to call for a strike.

Unionized Goodyear workers have been working on a day-to-day contract since April, when contracts at 11 Goodyear plants expired. In early June, the USWA, not happy with the progress of the talks, set a possible strike deadline of June 27 in the hopes of getting a tentative agreement hammered out.

There is no word yet on the union's plans. The break in negotiations coincides with the July 4th holiday week, although that has not been confirmed as a reason for the break.

Several weeks ago, the USWA rejected a Goodyear proposal that asked for pension and benefits concessions.

"Their approach isn't working," said a USWA spokesman recently. "We're looking for a plan that gets the company back on its feet" but not at the expense of factory workers.

Dealers contacted by Modern Tire Dealer say Goodyear has not even hinted to them that a strike is on the horizon.

Contracts at three of the company's former Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. plants are set to expire soon.

The USWA is using Goodyear as a "template" for negotiations with other tiremakers like Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. and Michelin North America Inc. Those negotiations are ongoing.

As CEO and President Bob Keegan officially replaced Sam Gibara as chairman of Goodyear today, Goodyear's stock was trading at $5.25 a share. That compares to a 52-week high and low of $19.66 and $3.35, respectively.