By Thursday afternoon, 12,000 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. employees in 10 states may be locked out of their jobs or could go on strike if the company and its unionized workers do not agree on a new contract.
Talks were under way in Cincinnati between the Akron-based tire maker and the United Steelworkers union.
The company, with 2005 sales of $19.5 billion (euro15.37 billion) and more than 100 plants in 29 countries, said the talks would affect 12,600 workers at 12 U.S. plants. The union put the head count at 14,000.
The union, which said it was determined to avoid plant shutdowns, said it would terminate a day-to-day contract with Goodyear Thursday if an agreement was not reached. The old three-year contract expired July 22.
"We're preparing for a number of scenarios and a strike is one of them," said Wayne Ranick, a spokesman for the Steelworkers.
Ranick and Goodyear spokesman Ed Markey said there was no update or progress to report Wednesday.
"Conversations are ongoing," Markey said.
The company said earlier that other options without a contract or extension of the old contract were a lockout or continuing work without a contract. Goodyear said it had contingency plans to keep its plants operating.
The key sticking point apparently was the company's desire to close plants in Tyler, Texas, and Gadsden, Alabama, union representatives in both cities said.
Saul Ludwig, a KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst, said a strike could cost Goodyear $2 million (euro1.6 million) a day. The company could save $50 million (euro39.5 million) a year by closing a U.S. plant, he said in a report to clients.
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