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Union Head Continues Blasting Goodyear, Hints That Strike Could be Long

(Akron/Tire Review) Calling the United Steelworkers strike against Goodyear a “fight about the symbolism” of what unions stand for, Steelworker President Leo Gerard told attendees at a recent AFL-CIO organizing event that the tiremaker picked the “wrong fight with the wrong union at the wrong time over the wrong issue.”

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“This has got to be a fight for all," Gerard told attendees, according to a report by the Bureau of National Affairs. “This has to show the Wall Street, Gucci-shoed, latte-drinking, coupon-clipping, limo-driving, rotten bastards that we’re not going to take it any more.”

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Claiming that top officials at two steel companies were fired after long USW strikes, Gerard told the crowd, “I’m giving the CEO and the president of Goodyear fair notice – come to the table and bargain. If not, we’ll be there one day longer and you won’t.”

Strike benefits and support, said Gerard, have cost the Steelworkers some $2 million per week since the strike started on Oct. 5. But he said the union would redouble its efforts and support via a “special fund,” said the BNA report. “Goodyear will either come to its senses or we will kick their ass,” Gerard was quoted in the BNA report.

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While Gerard and the USW continue to castigate Goodyear and its management at every opportunity, the union head made other comments at the AFL-CIO event that raised a few eyebrows among striking workers. Gerard said that if the Goodyear strike has not ended by the spring, he would call a special USW convention to ask its 850,000 members for an additional $5 per week contribution to fund the strike.

The USW has previously stated that its $150 million strike fund would was enough to allow Goodyear workers to remain on strike for nearly two years.

His comment marked the first time union officials indicated any kind of timeframe for the job action. However, his comments likely surprised some striking workers who have been waiting nearly a month for the two sides to return to the negotiating table. No talks were held for the first month of the strike, with the tire company and union returning to the table for one day before Steelworker negotiators walked away from the contract talks on Nov. 17.

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