Local News

Facing Obstacles, Some Goodyear Workers Break Picket Lines

Posted November 25, 2006

For seven weeks, union workers have braved cold weather, rain, and early mornings while striking outside Fayetteville's Goodyear plant. Since then, about 200 workers have crossed the picket line, many of them members of the union.

One of those workers, Tim Cassner, told WRAL he's not gone back to work to fund his tee times. The 38-year-old dad of two girls has other reasons.

"I went back for (the girls), because I've got to support them," Cassner said.

Cassner was right in the raucous thick of it on Oct. 5, when 2,000 workers walked off the job in Fayetteville. He stood on the picket line for four weeks, but went back to work on Nov. 6.

When he returned, picketers shouted insults at him. He's shrugged them off.

"Don't cuss at me," Cassner said. "Don't call my family names. You can call me anything you want. My family has nothing to do with me."

During his four weeks off, Cassner researched what his union said about workers' pay getting slashed in half. Then he studied Goodyear's 167-page contract.

"They do want lower wages," he said. "(The company wants) lower wages for new hires after a certain date. The people that have been there are going to keep their wages."

Cassner said he knows health care costs are a sore spot for the union.

"It's money for both sides," he said. "I mean, the company is trying to save money any way they can. And the biggest expenditure they have is health care. That's not something Goodyear can control."

Despite Black Friday, the blue sky and the holidays, picketers are holding the line. They have been at it for 50 days with no paycheck.

Joe Smith was among those wielding picket signs on Friday. He said that he's hurting financially.

"We'd be worse off in the long run if we went back to work now," Smith said. "So we need to stay here as long as it takes."

However, Cassner said the United Steel Workers Union hasn't helped the financial burden of the strike.

"The union did nothing to make sure that people who stayed out would be able to meet their bills if they ran out of money," he said.

Goodyear and the union met again last week, but negotiations broke down last Saturday, largely over health care issues. Meanwhile, the company is staffing its plants with temporary workers.

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