NEWS from the North American Regional Office of the
International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and
General Workers' Unions
Tire Unions Form Global Network at Goodyear
Joint press release of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions and the United Steelworkers of America, 11 March 1999
CLEVELAND, March 11 - Tire and rubber unions from sixteen countries on five continents, all representing workers employed at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., met here today and formed a global network of unions "for our mutual defense and advancement."
The unions forming the network came from the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Slovenia, Turkey, Morocco, South Africa, Malaysia and Japan. The unions are affiliated internationally with the 20 million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers' Unions (ICEM).
The unions formed a formal steering committee for the union network and elected Richard Davis, Vice President for Administration of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), as its chairman. Davis is the USWA's chief negotiator with Goodyear in the United States.
"The creation of this network is an historic first step to build worker solidarity across borders in one multinational corporation," said Davis. "When we heard reports about Goodyear operations and labor relations in the different countries, we found we had a lot in common with each other and needed to work together for a common agenda."
Goodyear has operations in 29 countries. In 1998, Goodyear earned profits of $682.3 million on revenues of $12.6 billion. Globally, the company employs approximately 95,000 people. The company recently concluded a joint venture agreement with Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. which, when it becomes effective, will make Goodyear the largest tire company in the world.
The unions agreed to make worker health and safety a first priority for the network, following reports of wide discrepancies in conditions at Goodyear facilities in different parts of the world.
"Is a worker's life in Malaysia worth any less than a worker's life in the United States or the United Kingdom?" asked USWA President George Becker, who chaired today's meeting. "Of course, it is not, and we have to work together to ensure that Goodyear adheres to the highest possible standards no matter where it does business."
Becker also serves as chairman of the ICEM Global Rubber Division.
The unions also agreed to create a data base on Goodyear's operations and working conditions, and to assist each other during collective bargaining negotiations and disputes with Goodyear when they arise, and attempts to organize the company's non-union facilities.