Perry, Bell Talk Goodyear Strike Options on East Texas Swing - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/24/06-Tyler

Perry, Bell Talk Goodyear Strike Options on East Texas Swing

With a thousand jobs on the line, the two major party candidates for the governor's office were in East Texas, Tuesday, sounding off on the Goodyear strike.

Governor Rick Perry and Democratic challenger Chris Bell made stops in East Texas, and addressed the strike now in its 19th day. 

Specifically, we asked what is the state doing, and what is the governor's role in keeping Goodyear in Tyler.

Perry and Bell say their plans can work, and Bell says the governor has the power to make a company negotiate in good faith.

"One of the greatest powers the governor of Texas has is the bully pulpit, and I would use that to do everything I can to support these workers and keep this plant open," said Bell, who visited striking workers outside the Tyler plant.

Bell wouldn't say whether cities and counties, or the state should shoulder most of the cost of incentives, but he says the state's fund used to lure businesses to Texas, needs to work to keep them here.

"This would be a perfect example of a use of the Governor's 'slush fund,' otherwise known as the [Texas] Enterprise Fund. I think some incentives can be given to Goodyear to keep these doors open," he adds. 

Rallying in Henderson, Perry says Bell doesn't have the full picture.

"That's not the only tool we have in this state.  So he may be overlooking $21 million that we're bringing in from sundry sources to put on the table," Perry said.

He says the funds to attract new business should remain for just that.

"[Bell] may be pointing to one thing that's not built for that type of process. That's like trying to cross the ocean in a canoe. It's not built for that," Perry added.

Meanwhile, as the strike lingers on, workers say ordinary folks need to pay attention.  They continue to say the ripple effect of Goodyear's exit would be catastrophic.

"I buy your products at the mall.  I buy your shirts.  I buy your cars.  And guess what?  I won't be buying them anymore," says striking worker Billy Williams.

The president of the United Steelworkers Local in Tyler, Jim Wansley, tells us that workers are prepared to hold out as long as it takes to save the Tyler plant. However, he says workers are concerned about possible permanent damage to Goodyear's operations by the prolonged strike, continuing even after a strike is over.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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