The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Goodyear workers strike

Nov 27, 2006

Some 15,000 rubber workers went on strike at sixteen Goodyear Tire and Rubber plants in the U.S. and Canada on October 5. As a result of a merger between the old Rubber Workers union and the Steelworkers union, they are now represented by the steelworkers (USWA).

They began their picket lines after the company announced plans to close a unionized Texas plant employing 1100 workers. Goodyear is also proposing increased health care costs for active and retired workers. It proposes to bring in new workers at lower wages. These demands come on top of the 2003 negotiations in which rubber workers already made concessions, including a two-year freeze on company contributions to their pension plan.

Goodyear is a 19 billion-dollar-a-year corporation. It acts exactly like many of the largest corporations in the country, attacking the wages, benefits and working conditions of workers while richly rewarding its top executives. The 2006 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and Proxy Statement lists 32 million dollars just in bonuses to top management.

A retired rubber worker who joined the strikers at a Virginia plant’s picket line said, “These are some huge cuts Goodyear is asking for.... Management wants to see how far they can push, and now they’re finding out.”

Every single worker in the country faces the same attacks. We saw it in steel, in the airlines, in auto. The corporations don’t stop with one concession, one increase in medical costs, one plant closing. They continue pushing us backwards and will keep on doing it until we begin to stand up to them. This strike might be a start, but it is only that.

Everyone has an interest in fighting these corporate attacks, starting with the whole USWA, which has a membership of 850,000 in North America. The best way to strengthen this fight is to join it – and turn it into a fight against all these vultures.