By Oliver Hall
Negotiators from Goodyear tyres and the United Steelworkers of America are getting to grips with drawing up a new master contract for employees.
Almost three years have passed since the two sides were at loggerheads over the last contract and the dispute ended in several months of strike action.
The existing tyres workers contract is set to expire on July 18th and talks are already underway, but a question mark hangs over whether or not mutually agreeable terms can be reached without a repeat of the industrial action of 2006.
The existing three-year contract covers around 10,300 works as seven Goodyear factories in the US, and while the USW states its goal in negotiations will be to improve pay and benefits, it acknowledges that job security will overshadow other issues.
The USW is also negotiating on another front to block the import of cheap tyres from China to give U.S. tyre industry a “fighting chance” to survive during the economic downturn.
The union has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to limit the number of Chinese tyre imports claiming that it would improve domestic job security, enable U.S. tyre makers to regain lost market share, increase production and sales, and allow investment in capital equipment to better compete in the long term.