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Saturday, November 4th, 2006

As union objects to temp workers, Goodyear draws line at the gate

By Janie Southard
ST. MARYS - There were minor incidents at Goodyear Tri & Rubber Co. earlier this week when more than 40 professional replacement workers arrived at the local plant.
About 100 striking steelworkers greeted the busload of paid replacements, hired by the company, with shouts, hand signals and knocking on the bus. Subsequently, the company demanded the steelworkers remove their strike site from Goodyear property.
"We don't want or condone violence, but our people understandably get upset when Goodyear hires scabs to come in to take our jobs," Steelworkers Local 200L Vice President Rick Niekamp told The Daily Standard Thursday afternoon.
Additionally, Goodyear painted a line at the gate on state Route 66 this week over which picketers are not to walk.
"They also put up 'no trespassing' signs, and there are security guards always watching us," said Niekamp, adding Goodyear's security forces have increased significantly.  
On Tuesday, strikers received their first weekly food ($65) and gasoline ($25) vouchers from the national strike fund since the strike against 16 Goodyear plants in the United States and Canada began four weeks ago.
Local 200L President Gary Glass told the newspaper earlier this week the pattern agreement used by the union this year was negotiated through Michelin-owned B.F. Goodrich.
"The other companies (Goodyear and Bridgestone-Firestone) don't have to follow the pattern agreement exactly. Goodyear has been the pattern several times," Glass said of the guideline contract, which serves as the union's negotiating base.
This year the 10-person committee (three USW men from each of the three tire companies plus Steelworkers Vice President Ron Hoover reviewed the tentative agreement between the union and Goodrich and finally determined that it could be used as the pattern.
Hoover said in an interview in "Tire Review" newsletter pattern bargaining means that in areas of wages, benefits for active workers and retirees and overall cost to the company the "Big Three" agreements reached will be comparable."
One of several portions of the pattern was not agreeable to Steelworkers at Goodyear and that is the provision for support units (workers) who could make up a maximum of 10 percent of the workforce. Proposed hourly salary of $11 for these workers is flat payment, not including benefits, insurance, vacation, sick days, or pension money.
Minimum hire-in rate for regular workers, per the Goodrich pattern, is $13 an hour plus benefits.
"(The support unit clause) is just another cheap way to bring in new workers. It's sure to cause turmoil in the plant," Glass said.
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