Strike preparations at BFNT plants continue

March 15, 2005

Strike preparations being made by Steelworkers at Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) plants "are going on as scheduled," says United Steelworkers of America (USWA) spokesman Wayne Ranick.

Union members at the plants are reviewing the status of negotiations between BFNT and the USWA, plus "what kinds of activities are protected (i.e. legal) if a strike occurs and what is not protected."

The USWA began strike preparations at BFNT facilities last week.

A BFNT spokesman told that preparations do not necessarily mean that a strike will take place.

The USWA's bargaining team that is negotiating with BFNT representatives in St. Louis, Mo., "has the authority to call a strike," according to Ranick.

Steelworkers are accusing the tiremaker 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."

A new contract would cover plants in Des Moines, Iowa; Warren County, Tenn.; La Vergne, Tenn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and a facility in Akron, Ohio, that builds racing tires.

All five factories are currently operating under a day-to-day contract that can be canceled at any time by either side after a five-day notice.

"We are still negotiating with the union with the hopes of reaching a new contract," say BFNT officials.