Saturday, August 19, 2000

Tire maker faces possible strike

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News

        DETROIT — The union representing 8,000 Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. workers says it will end contract extensions in 14 days and will probably strike if no new contract is reached.

        A work stoppage would come as the Japanese-American tire maker ramps up production to replace 6.5 million 15-inch truck tires it recalled last week. Federal regulators are investigating 62 deaths and 100 injuries that could be linked to the Firestone tires.

        The United Steelworkers of America said Friday that the latest contract proposal presented by Bridgestone/Firestone on Tuesday for workers at nine plants fell far short of the union's goals.

        “We expect intensive bargaining to continue,” John Sellers, chairman of the steelworkers' Bargaining Council, said in a statement. “If an agreement is not reached during this time, a strike at every location is most probable.”

        The union and Bridgestone/Firestone have been negotiating since March. The union represents workers in factories at Akron, Ohio; Bloomington, Ill.; Decatur, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; LaVergne, Tenn.; Noblesville, Ind.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Russellville, Ark.; and Warren County, Tenn.

        Bridgestone/Firestone did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

        Ford Motor Co. and Brid gestone have released data indicating that a portion of the tires being recalled were likely made at a Decatur, Ill., plant following a 10-month strike. During the strike, replacement workers and managers made tires.

        The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration began an investigation in May to see whether Firestone's ATX, ATX II and some Wilderness brands are linked to accidents that killed at least 62 people and injuries to 100 more.


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