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Alabama

Workers Rally in Solidarity with Goodyear Strikers

by Chapin Gray |
January 9, 2007
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Men on picket line
International Association of Machinists members Billy Anderson of Chicago and Tommy Mayfield of Mobile at rally in Hoover, Alabama. (Fight Back! News)
Woman displaying fliers.
Communication Workers of America member Vickie Grace, of Birmingham, shows her support for the Goodyear strike at rally in Hoover, Alabama.

Hoover, AL - In solidarity with the over 15,000 Goodyear Tire and Rubber workers who have been on strike since Oct. 5, demonstrations were held on Dec. 2 at Goodyear retail stores across the country. In Birmingham, over 100 workers and their supporters rallied at the retail store, while in Hoover, Alabama, a similar rally was held to protest the company’s unfair contract proposals, as well as to warn consumers of the risk involved in buying tires manufactured by strikebreakers.

Leaflets distributed to potential customers explain the findings of a recent study that linked defective tires to labor strife. For instance, the 2000 Firestone/Ford recall of defective tires, which killed over 270 people, was the result of the company’s use of unskilled scabs at a striking plant in Decatur, Alabama.

At the Hoover rally, unions from all over the country and from different manufacturing sectors were present, all demanding that Goodyear uphold its promises. “This is a combination of lots of unions - communications, steel - all pulling together to support each other for a great cause,” said Vickie Grace, member of the Communications Workers of America Local 3902 in Birmingham. “Goodyear is not living up to its promises. We want a change, and we want it now. These are hardworking employees and they don't deserve it.”

The Goodyear company is attempting to go back on its health care contract for retirees. Despite concessions the United Steelworkers union accepted in 2003 and record profits for the company and its CEO in 2005, Goodyear announced plans in 2006 to close plants and gut retiree benefits.

“Corporate America has chosen Goodyear to set a precedent for how companies will handle retiree benefits in the future,” explained Tommy Mayfield of Mobile, member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “It’s not right for them to take retiree health benefits away that have been paid for over the years. The working class is tired of being treated like dogs.”

The U.S. Army, facing a shortage of tires for Humvees used in Iraq, threatened to intervene and break the strike at the Kansas plant.

[Editors note: On Dec. 29, it was announced that a tentative agreement between striking members of the United Steel Workers and Goodyear was ratified, bringing the courageous three-month strike to an end. On the upside, rubber workers were able to get Goodyear to up their offer for funding retiree health care. On the downside, a major plant in Tyler, Texas can be closed in 2008.]

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