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Goodyear, Union To Resume Negotiations

Posted November 13, 2006

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— Goodyear is coming back to the bargaining table. Company representatives and union negotiators representing steel workers will hold a negotiating session in Cincinnati on Tuesday.

About 15,000 workers walked off the job last month, including some 2,000 at the plant in Fayetteville. After 39 days walking the line, some of the picket signs have faded, but not the picketers' spunk.

It was 82 degrees when the strike started. Since then, picketers have begun building fires for warmth, and the trees have gone from deep green to bright red.

"A lot of these people have children," said picketer Gary Young. "They have bills. It's tough for them."

For 39 days, Gary Young has spent time each week holding a sign and scorning anybody who enters or leaves the plant. At least 180 employees have crossed the picket line since Oct. 5. About 60 of them are members of the union, and those on the picket line are showing no mercy.

"There's no patience for them," said Young. "We're out here standing here, fighting their battle for them."

Goodyear has gained some traction with the union. Its latest proposal says it will not cut pay and will not close any plant except one in Texas, and it will continue cost of living allowances. But it's still on the skids with health benefits.

"There are still some items there that I'm sure there'll be some movement on," said Local 959 Vice President Mike Price. "But they have got to move on health care."

Otherwise, union leaders said the strike could drag on until January. The picketers on Monday said they have faith, if not a paycheck.

"God will get me through. I'm not worried about that," Young said.

The president of the local union will attend this week's meeting in Cincinnati. He said that if negotiations go well, an agreement could be reached in a week or two.

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