USWA Pickets Unfair
(Akron/TR) “Informational pickets” set up by United Steelworkers of America (USWA) locals representing Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire (BFNAT) plants are causing concerns amongst owners of Nissan car dealerships who say such action is unfair and hurts their businesses.
BFNAT and the USWA are deadlocked in negotiations for a new master contract covering the eight BFNAT plants represented by the union. USWA members have periodically posted pickets in front of Nissan dealerships in towns where BFNAT plants are, in an effort to pressure the tyre manufacturer.
A nationwide picket of Nissan dealerships was held 16 February, and the union has also picketed BFNAT-owned retail outlets. The union focused on Nissan because the carmaker is a major OE customer for BFNAT. However, the USWA has not picketed the dealers of any other vehicle makes that BFNAT supplies.
One Nissan dealer in Noblesville, Indiana, where BFNAT operates a tube plant, is frustrated with the picketing. Eddie Martin, vice president and managing owner of the Ed Martin Automotive Group, told the Indianapolis Star: “I’m not sure why they are picketing a small private business that has nothing to do with their situation. I passed their concerns on to our Nissan sales representative. That’s all I can do.”
Negotiators from both sides continue to meet in St Louis in an effort to hammer out a new contract. The USWA scheduled strike preparation meetings at all BFNAT plants covered under the contract. Union members have been working day-to-day since April 2003 under terms of their former contract.