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No end to Goodyear strike in sight; Tire supply so far keeping steady

PITTSBURGH, Penn. -- Almost 10 weeks after union workers walked off the job, an end to the ongoing strike at over a dozen Goodyear Tire plants doesn't seem imminent.


PITTSBURGH, Penn. — Almost 10 weeks after union workers walked off the job, an end to the ongoing strike at over a dozen Goodyear Tire plants doesn’t seem imminent.

About 14,000 Goodyear workers have been on strike since early October, when the United Steelworkers of America and the tiremaker hit a stalemate in contract talks. The two sides have met casually over the last two months, but further negotiations have not been planned since the Steelworkers broke off talks in late November.

The strike is affecting about 16 plants, including Canadian facilities in Toronto, Collingwood, Ont. and Owen Sound.

Talks between Goodyear and the Steelworkers broke off
recently. The union disputed reports the strike could be over by Jan.

Both sides have taken a hard line over company plans to close plants and slash employee benefits.

Goodyear — which is adamant about cutting spending to offset rising raw material costs and competition from cheaper, overseas manufacturers — says, so far, contingency plans to deal with a prolonged labor battle have worked well.

The tiremaker had been stockpiling rubber for major accounts like GM and Wabash months before the strike.

So far, there haven’t been many reports of major disruptions in tire availability or pricing, the company claims.

While that looks to be true, one smaller private trailer manufacturer told trucking industry analysts Bear Stearns that there’s some creeping concern over the ability to source tires should one of Goodyear’s larger accounts like Wabash begin to seek an alternative source of supply.

Last week the union aggressively disputed a recent prediction by a J.P. Morgan Securities analyst that the workers would cave in the New Year, when Goodyear is no longer required to pay for health-care premiums for active-duty workers. Himanshu Patel went on to say that the move could put pressure on union members to reach a quick agreement.

“(This is) another projection that’s dead wrong by a guy who just doesn’t do his homework,” said USW International vice president Tom Conway in a press release.

Conway countered that the actual real cut-off date is in mid-April.

Meanwhile, Goodyear says a group of independent auditors have concluded that the strike is not affecting the quality of the company’s tires being produced by management.

Goodyear says all plants are scheduled for audits every six months.

— with files from Associate Press


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