NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bridgestone/ Firestone workers remained on the job while company and union negotiators continued contract talks Saturday.
A threatened walkout at nine tire plants was averted Friday as negotiators worked past a midnight strike deadline trying to reach a compromise.
"We appreciate the decision by the union to stay on the job," company spokeswoman Christine Karbowiak said in a statement released in a St. Louis, Mo., hotel where talks were held. "There has been much give and take in around-the-clock bargaining."
George Becker, president of United Steelworkers of America, said while key elements of the contract remain unresolved, "we have made enough progress over the past two days that the union is willing to continue working while bargaining goes on."
It was good news for the embattled tiremaker, already hard-pressed to meet demand for replacements for millions of tires recalled by the company. Bridgestone/Firestone recently increased production to accommodate the Aug. 9 U.S. recall.
A strike would involve up to 8,000 workers at nine of its 11 U.S. plants including factories in Akron, Ohio; Bloomington, Ill.; Decatur, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; Noblesville, Ind.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Russellville, Ark.; LaVergne, Tenn.; and Warren County, Tenn.
"We're telling our people to show up on their regular shifts throughout the weekend," said Tommy Reeder, secretary of Local 1055 at the company's plant in LaVergne.
Off-duty workers on Friday had congregated at union halls near the plants to await word on whether to set up pickets. Reeder said there was "some disappointment" from LaVergne workers when the threatened walkout was called off.
"Most people I talked to were fired up and ready to go. They felt if we didn't get it settled by midnight we should walk."
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