By Janie Southard
ST. MARYS -- It was a chilly night to be out, but Goodyear's union workers remained on picket lines throughout the early hours last night.
They say they don't want to be on the street but that's where they are and will be 24/7 until the United Steelworkers' strike ends.
Rick Niekamp, vice president of Steelworkers Local 200L, said Thursday following the one o'clock strike announcement that he hopes this is a "short one."
No new talks between Goodyear and the union have been scheduled. Local 200L President Gary Glass has been in Cincinnati for many days attending the on-going talks between the two groups.
"We're here until it ends. (The company's) last offer didn't even come close (to a compromise). We had no choice but to walk," Niekamp told The Daily Standard at his office as union members filed in and out signing up for the picket line. Local union workers number 360 active and more than 200 on layoff. Company wide there are about 12,000 workers on strike at 16 Goodyear plants in the United States and Canada. The company's last offer included wage cuts and no job protection among other proposals the union finds unacceptable. "You know, there are thousands of jobs going overseas," Niekamp pointed out.
Out at the plant where union workers will demonstrate in four-hour shifts, pickets said they've got two more weeks' wages coming from the company, this week and next, but after that their income will be in the form of food and gasoline vouchers from the union.
"How long can we last before we have to look for part-time work? I guess that's different for everybody. But I've got six kids and a house payment -- you tell me," said one picket with more than a decade at the St. Marys plant.
The Steelworkers' union has been working on a day-to-day extension since July 22 when the last three-year contract expired.
Local non-union employees in St. Marys will work the production floor following some training sessions today.
Unnamed management sources say the office fleet will work the floor in 12-hour shifts.
"I've had no report of any scabs coming here. But, yes, management will be trying to produce. Of course, they won't hit quality and will probably hurt themselves in the process, but ..." Niekamp commented.
The union's last strike was a three-week walkout in 1997. Before that they were out several months in the late 1970s, according to the best of local memory.