Goodyear Keeping Plants Open During Strike

Tire company will use salaried workers, inventory and imports to continue business while 12,000 USW employees strike.

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., with 12,000 union employees on strike at 16 plants in the U.S. and Canada, will turn to managers, inventory and tires from overseas to try to keep its business going.

The United Steelworkers of America terminated a day-to-day contract extension Thursday and quickly set up picket lines. A company spokesman said talks would not resume until Saturday at the earliest.

Without giving details, Goodyear said its latest offer would protect jobs and pensions. The company said the union failed to agree to terms in contracts the union has with other tire makers, conditions the company claims are necessary for its survival.

The union, mindful of contract concessions it made three years ago, said the company's latest proposal would have included two plant closings and other concessions.

Commuters honked horns in support of the strikers and a few people brought the striking workers breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and coffee. Some of the salaried workers going in and out of the headquarters shook hands with the workers or offered words of encouragement.

Union spokesman Wayne Ranick said Friday morning no new talks have been scheduled.

Goodyear will continue production at nonunion plants in Lawton, Okla., and Napanee, Ontario, and will use salaried workers at its union plants, spokesman Ed Markey said. The company also has imports and inventory to draw on, Markey said, declining to give specifics.

''We are working to minimize impact on our customers,'' chief Goodyear negotiator Jim Allen said.

Akron-based Goodyear ranks No. 3 in the world in tire sales, based on revenues, behind top-ranked Bridgestone and No. 2 Michelin, according to the trade publication Tire Business. Goodyear had 2005 sales of $19.5 billion and has more than 100 plants in 29 countries.

Saul Ludwig, a KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst, said a strike could cost Goodyear $2 million a day. The company could save $50 million a year by closing a U.S. plant, he said in a report to clients.

He said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that unless the strike was lengthy, consumers should not see tire prices affected by the walkout because of the large inventory of tires in the market.

The union said it represents 15,000 employees in Alabama, Kansas, Ohio, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and in Collingwood, Toronto and Owen Sound in Canada. By the company's count, the U.S. plants have about 12,600 employees represented by the Steelworkers.

Plants affected by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. strike that began Thursday:

Akron, Ohio — About 440 workers at a high-performance tire manufacturing plant.

Danville, Va. — About 1,200 workers make tires for large trucks and aircraft.

Fayetteville, N.C. — About 2,400 active and laid-off workers make car tires.

Gadsen, Ala. —About 1,250 workers make automobile tires.

St. Marys, Ohio — About 635 active and laid-off workers make tire tracks for Goodyear's engineered products division.

Lincoln, Neb. — About 1,050 active and laid-off workers make hoses and belts.

Marysville, Ohio — About 205 workers make heavy conveyor belts.

Sun Prairie, Wis. — About 250 workers make belts and hoses.

Tonawanda, N.Y. — About 1,200 workers make tires at a Goodyear-run Dunlop plant.

Topeka, Kan. — About 1,500 workers make tires for trucks and earthmovers.

Tyler, Texas — About 940 workers make tires for cars.

Union City, Tenn. — About 2,800 active and laid-off workers make car tires.

Ontario, Canada — About 1,000 workers at two plants in Toronto and plants in Collingwood and Owen Sound retread commercial tires and are involved in tire development and design.

Associated Press writers Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y., and Carl Manning in Topeka, Kan., contributed to this report.

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