- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

A 10-week strike of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. workers is creating a shortage of Humvee tires used by the military overseas, according to the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

The labor dispute “greatly impacts the nation’s ability to deliver the next fleet of up-armored [Humvee] vehicles to the men and women of the armed forces who are currently operating in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican.

The Humvee is among the military’s most versatile vehicles. It transports troops and cargo, serves as a weapons platform and can double as an ambulance.

About 15,000 members of the United Steelworkers Union at 16 Goodyear plants across North America walked out Oct. 5 after failing to agree on a new contract.

The plants have stayed open using salaried employees and temporary workers, but production has decreased about 50 percent since the strike began, Goodyear spokesman Ed Markey said yesterday.

Goodyear denied that the strike was causing a critical shortage of military tires.

“We are in daily contact with the U.S. military and are working on every viable option to continue to increase our production to meet the military needs,” Mr. Markey said.

The Army said it has enough Humvee tires for the time being.

“We have a reserve of supplies,” said Lt. Col. William Wiggins, a spokesman for the Army. “But we’re obviously concerned if any of our major manufacturers have a hiccup in their supply process.”

Col. Wiggins said he didn’t know how long supplies would last if the strike continues.

Mr. Hunter on Wednesday wrote to Goodyear management and union leaders to ask them to work out a deal allowing 200 striking workers to return to Goodyear’s Topeka, Kan., plant — the sole producer of Humvee tires.

“The U.S. Army fights on wheels, and they need help from both the union and management right now,” Mr. Hunter said.

The congressman said he intervened at the urging of Gen. Richard Cody, vice chief of staff for the Army.

The union yesterday said it was willing to return 200 workers to the Topeka plant, but that Goodyear refused its offer.

“They dismissed the offer and refused to even acknowledge that a problem exists,” said union Vice President Tom Conway.

Goodyear officials said the workers are welcome back anytime.

“We haven’t locked anybody out of our plants,” Mr. Markey said. “We would welcome any worker who would come across the line to help produce military tires.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide