Desperate Army seeks to break strike


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

US Army might break Goodyear strike

By Bernard Simon in Toronto
Financial Times
Updated: 10:12 p.m. ET Dec. 15, 2006

The US Army is considering measures to force striking workers back to their jobs
at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas in the face of a looming shortage of
tyres for Humvee trucks and other military equipment used in Iraq and 

A strike involving 17,000 members of the United Steelworkers union has crippled 
16 Goodyear plants in the US and Canada since October 5.

The main issues in dispute are the company's plans to close a unionised plant in
Texas, and a proposal for workers to shoulder future increases in healthcare 

An army spokeswoman said on Friday that "there's not a shortage right now but 
there possibly will be one in the future".

According to Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House of Representatives armed 
services committee, the strike has cut output of Humvee tyres by about 35 per 

Mr Hunter said that the army had stopped supplying tyres to units not related to
the Central Command, which is responsible for operations in Iraq and 
Afghanistan. Tyres were also not being provided to army repair depots.

While concern has centred on the Humvees, tyres are also critical to aircraft 
and other military equipment.

Goodyear brushed off concerns of looming shortages, saying that production at 
the Kansas plant, where the Humvee tyres are made, "is near normal levels and 
will be back to 100 per cent in the near future."

It added that "we're in daily contact with the military to ensure delivery of 
the required Humvee tyres".

The company said it was using salaried and temporary workers to keep the Kansas 
plant running. It has taken similar measures at other plants, as well as 
stepping up imports from overseas factories to maintain supplies to the car and 
truck industry.

The union claims that the strikebound plants are running at about 20 per cent of
capacity. Goodyear has said that North American output is at about half normal 
levels, including non-union plants.

According to Mr Hunter, the army is exploring a possible injunction under the 
Taft-Hartley Act to force the 200 Kansas workers back to their jobs.

He proposed that they return under their current terms of employment, on the 
understanding that any settlement would be extended to them.

© The Financial Times Ltd 2006. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of the
Financial Times.Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.


© 2006

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