Just minutes before their contract expired, United Steelworkers officials announced to workers they had a tentative agreement in place with Bridgestone in Des Moines, avoiding a strike for the moment.
“We have a TA,” the USW Local 310 page posted at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, half an hour before workers’ previous contract expired at midnight.
“There is a tentative agreement, which means there is an agreement contingent on the membership’s approval,” officials added. “There will be informational meetings scheduled in the next few weeks, followed by a vote whether to accept the agreement or not.”
The agreement covers some 950 unionized workers at the Des Moines tire plant, though only until the vote. If workers vote it down, a strike could be imminent.
Commenters were mixed on whether the tentative agreement was a good thing, with some saying the company dragged its feet until the last minute. Others asked for more details on wages and benefits agreed upon.
Others, such as tire layer Tim Cox noted members would have their say on the contract soon.
“You would hope it’s a fair contract,” he said. “Our bargaining committee has been working hard and we should at least give them the respect to see what is in the offer.”
Bridgestone workers had a rally in support of an agreement Thursday afternoon, with dozens of members as well as local officials keeping pressure on the company to reach an agreement.
Workers are asking for reversing a company reduction of active and retiree health benefits, no restrictions on bidding opportunities, and no erosion of seniority rights.
Bridgestone’s Des Moines tire plan has been in operation since 1945 and is crucial to the company.
According to Bridgestone, the “Des Moines Ag Tire Plant is the No. 1 agricultural tire facility in the country and produces agricultural, construction, forestry, and off-the-road tires. The plant manufactures approximately 90% of all agricultural products that Firestone sells in the United States and Canada.”
The company said in an email to Starting Line they were “committed to an open and good-faith discussion” and were “optimistic that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.”
By Amie Rivers
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