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US Goodyear Settlement Ends Strike

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7 August, 2005ICEM News release No. 95/2000

American workers have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with tyre multinational Goodyear, thus ending their 64-day strike at the company's Houston, Texas, facility.

The workers' union, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), successfully fought back against Goodyear's demands for worker concessions concerning seniority rights, contracting out, health benefit cuts and wage cuts.

The strike began on 10 October after the union rejected the company's proposed new agreement. Subsequently, Goodyear proposed even worse terms that called for contracting out 139 jobs or across-the-board pay cuts of 33 percent. Goodyear declared an "impasse" on November 1 and threatened to implement its "final" offer. The IUOE filed unfair labour practice charges with the US National Labor Relations Board and requested assistance from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM). The ICEM unites more than 20 million workers on all continents.

Fred Higgs, ICEM General Secretary, and Richard Davis, Vice-President of the United Steelworkers of America and Chairman of the ICEM Goodyear Unions Global Network, urged the company to settle the dispute and asked Goodyear unions around the world to lend their support. Among the protests to the company in support of the IUOE were those from unions representing Goodyear employees in France, Germany, Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Australia, as well as the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), which represents Goodyear workers in the United States and Canada.

"The strike settlement in Houston is a victory for our local union and its members, who held firm for more than two months, and it is a victory for international union solidarity," said IUOE General President Frank Hanley. "Our union is grateful for the support we received from the ICEM and its affiliates around the world who rallied to our defence."

The settlement involves approximately 350 workers at the plant who manufacture emulsion styrene butadiene rubber, a raw material used in tyre production.