USWA gears up for possible strikes at Bridgestone/Firestone plants

March 4, 2005

The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) announced earlier today in the union's Solidarity News bulletin that strike preparation meetings will begin at Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) plants on Tuesday, March 8.

"To date, (BFNT) has been unresponsive to our job and plant security demands," say USWA officials, who are accusing BFNT of wanting to "export our jobs and replace our production with imports and goods produced at non-union plants.

"There can be no new contract without the company committing to the future of our plants."

BFNT and union officials returned to the bargaining table in December after a break that lasted for more than one year.

BFNT factories currently operating on a day-to-day contract include Des Moines, Iowa; Warren County, Tenn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; La Vergne, Tenn.; and a facility in Akron, Ohio, that manufactures racing tires.

The day-to-day agreement can be canceled at any time by either side following a five-day notice.

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

Steelworkers say BFNT officials are pushing for "massive" concessions like mandatory daily overtime, restrictions on seniority, reduced health care coverage for active and retired workers and other initiatives.