Goodyear In Negotiations With Steel Workers
In the USA, Goodyear is gearing up for negotiations with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) about a new Master Contract, covering 10,000 hourly-paid workers.The negotiations come at a time of change for both the company and the union; Goodyear has been laying off workers and shutting plants in an attempt to reverse its loss in 2001 of $203 million, while the president of USWA Local 2 (the union branch involved in the negotiations) is retiring.According to the American newspapers, the retiring president Doug Werstler, is not involved in the negotiations.
He describes Goodyear as “very important” to the union, but he cannot rule out the possibility of the talks ending in a strike. Indeed, the previous two Master Contract negotiations did just that, with a 19 day strike in 1997 and a four-hour walkout in 1994. Werstler is quoted as saying that he hopes clear heads will prevail, but he adds that “a lot is at stake”.
Safeguarding jobs is the union’s main task and it has suffered from the job reductions. Goodyear has moved jobs to low-cost centres of production and has stated that this will continue if US plants were not competitive. Put like that, it would appear that the two sides have little in common, but the press reports say that it is too early to say whether or not the negotiations will end in the workers walking out and we can expect at least another week of hard bargaining.