Steelworkers raise money at plant gates to support Goodyear strikers

Truck News

SUDBURY, Ont. — In a week of raising funds through plant gate collections in Sudbury, Ont. and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. members of the United Steelworkers (USW) gave more than $15,000 toward supporting striking Goodyear workers and their families.

The plant gate collections in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie were followed by the distribution of turkeys on Goodyear picket lines in Collingwood, Owen Sound and Toronto.

“At no time of year is it easy to be on strike, but this time of year is especially difficult,” said Wayne Fraser, director for USW Ontario/Atlantic. “Our members in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and elsewhere know what it’s like and they have shown their willingness to help. Generosity is a Steelworker tradition.”

The 400 USW members on strike in Canada are among 15,000 across North America, who went on strike Oct. 5. Workers from15 facilities across the US and Canada walked off the job to protest unfair contract proposals made by the company. Twelve of the facilities are in the US and are covered under a master contract. Three Canadian facilities have separate contracts but also walked off the job in solidarity.

“This fight is not just about Goodyear,” said Fraser. “It’s about maintaining jobs and manufacturing in Canada. The drain on families and communities has got to stop. The Goodyear strikers are a vanguard in the fight to save Canadian jobs.”

The workers walked off the job in protest over the companys demands to close factories and import tires from low-wage countries. As well, Goodyear workers vow to hold out one day longer than the company to obtain a fair and equitable contract that provides reasonable job security and for a fair deal on retiree health care.

Just a week into the strike, Goodyear enhanced its cash position by borrowing nearly $1 billion under an existing revolving credit facility. The company said it borrowed approximately $675 million on Oct. 13 and $300 million on Oct. 5.

“Before the start of the United Steelworkers strike in North America, Goodyear had about $1.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents and approximately $1.6 billion in available credit lines. This action provides additional cash in the unlikely event of a prolonged strike,” stated Richard J. Kramer, executive vice-president and CFO, at the time of the announcement.

Goodyear implemented contingency plans to meet customer needs during the strike.

“We are shipping products to customers from existing inventory, operating non-affected tire plants as usual, operating affected plants with salaried employees and importing from our international operations,” Kramer said.

Kramer reiterated Goodyears position that its goal in the negotiations with the USW is to reach a fair contract that enhances the companys competitiveness and helps Goodyear win with customers.

“We cannot accept a contract that creates competitive and cost disadvantages versus our foreign-owned competitors and imports,” he added.

Goodyear manufactures tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals in more than 100 facilities in 29 countries around the world. Goodyear employs about 80,000 people worldwide.

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