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The Daily



06-30-03: Union chiefs nix Goodyear proposal
The Daily Standard

    Union representatives for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. on Friday rejected an employee contract proposal from company officials that would lay off workers and slash healthcare benefits, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) reported in a press release this morning.
    The two sides now have scheduled a conference call for Tuesday. The call may set a time to reconvene talks or may result in the union giving a 72-hour notice to strike, said Gary McMullin, a representative of United Steel Workers Local 200 in St. Marys.
    The negotiating union team representing plant workers at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Molded Plant in St. Marys and 13 other plants nationwide began contract talks in Cincinnati in March, and Friday was the deadline to complete negotiations. Company officials submitted a proposal to the union 20 minutes before the midnight deadline.
    The USWA press release said the proposal would have cut employees as the company has plans to close many North American facilities. The proposal also slashed healthcare benefits for active and retired members.
    "They just want to shut down plants," McMullin said. "They don't have a plan on turning the financial situation around."
    McMullin has said the union developed a plan to help the company chip into last year's record $1.1 billion loss by reducing substantial waste in its operations, but said the company has showed no interest.
    "They want to address it by importing more and shutting plants down," McMullin said. "They are not interested in investing in North American Tire (Goodyear's parent company)."
    Company officials were in meetings this morning and unavailable to comment.
    The company has said it needs to trim as much as $1.5 billion in costs by 2005 so it can compete with overseas plants.
    Union officials said a team of USWA and Wall Street financial and legal experts conducted a study on Goodyear's finances and operations prior to the beginning of bargaining March 12. The study noted a bloated bureaucratic structure with many excessive layers of managerial personnel and the immediate need for the company to restructure its debt, union officials claim.
    Workers at the St. Marys Goodyear plant voted in March to allow United Steel Workers Local 200 union officials to authorize a strike if current contract negotiations fail.
    The negotiations cover contracts for more than 19,000 active workers and 22,000 retirees employees at Goodyear, Kelly-Springfield and Dunlop plants, all owned by North American Tire, across the United States. The St. Marys union has 525 members.


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