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Goodyear, Steelworkers Union End Dispute

March 3, 2004

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the United Steelworkers of America on Wednesday settled a dispute over where its new line of tires is manufactured.

The Pittsburgh-based union last week accused Goodyear of violating its labor contract by making the Assurance tires at a nonunion plant.

Goodyear denied the claim but the dispute put a damper on fanfare surrounding the new tire that the struggling company says is integral to its turnaround plan. And it put more strain on an already tense relationship between the union and the Akron-based company.

On Wednesday, USWA contract coordinator Ron Hoover said the union was happy with Goodyear’s promise at a meeting that 1 million of the tires would be manufactured at a union plant in Gadsden, Ala.

``We are gratified that the company promptly suggested that we sit down and resolve this issue,″ Hoover said.

Goodyear, which bills the Assurance line as the most important new product it has released in a decade, said manufacturing would also continue at the nonunion plant in Lawton, Okla.

Goodyear employees approved a three-year contract last year after tense negotiations with the union, which represents about 20,000 workers at 20 U.S. plants. The pact called for, among other things, new products developed for sale in North America to be manufactured at union shops.

The union can strike if contract promises are broken, and analysts have said a strike would be devastating to the company.

Goodyear has about 88,000 employees and makes tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals in 28 countries. The company has lost more than $1 billion, cut 20,000 jobs and closed eight plants worldwide in recent years.

Shares closed up 40 cents at $8.68 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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On the Net:

Goodyear: http://www.goodyear.com

Steelworkers: http://www.uswa.org/uswa/program/content/index.php

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