Union Rejects Goodyear's Final Contract Proposal

Union members representing Kelly Springfield Tyler employees rejected a final contract proposal from parent company, Goodyear Inc., on Friday, dashing hopes a resolution was around the corner.

A spokesperson for the United Steelworkers of America says the proposed draft offered no protection against multiple plant closings and staff layoffs.

The contract negotiations affect fourteen plants nationwide. Since mid-April, Kelly Springfield in Tyler and 11 other plants have been operating with no contract. All have been functioning under an extended contract with Goodyear.

"It basically means we will continue to work until further notice, says Ed Moore, a spokesperson for the United Steelworkers of America. Moore says he's optimistic a strike will be avoided, but recognizes it's a possibility. He says, one of the parties will have to give a 72-hour notice before a strike is called.

Union members rejected the contract late Friday, saying it failed to promise capital investments that would ensure Kelly Springfield's future survival. Negotiators say the contract would also slash health care benefits for active and retired employees and provides no protection against plant reductions and closings.

"We feel hopeful things will turn around for the betterment of both parties," says Moore.

A Goodyear spokesperson has been quoted, saying, "the company cannot continue to operate under its current cost structure." The company says it needs to trim 1.5 billion dollars in costs to compete with overseas plants.

Kerri Panchuk reporting.