Picket of metallurgists in front of the La Vergne plant
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Scott Broden, Murfreesboro Daily Newspaper
- The contract between the union and Bridgestone is set to end at 11 p.m. Thursday
- Negotiations on a new contract in times of high inflation
- The La Vergne plant has 1,100 workers
- La Vergne mayor posts messages about Bridgestone picketers on Facebook
LA Vergne — Many commuters on Waldron Road on Tuesday were led away by United Steelworkers picketing outside the Bridgestone tire factory.
“We are working on a fair deal,” said Jess Kamm, spokesperson for the United Steelworkers.
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The current contract between the union and Bridgestone is due to expire at 11 p.m. Thursday. If the parties fail to reach an agreement, negotiations will continue at a time of high inflation where prices rose 9.1% in June of the previous year.
However, unresolved negotiations can eventually lead to a work stoppage requiring notice, either through a workers’ strike or a management lockout of the plant, Kamm said.
The negotiations involve six Bridgestone Americas plants, including the La Vergne plant that makes radial tires for trucks and buses, company spokeswoman Emily Weaver said.
“We are committed to an open discussion in good faith, and we are optimistic that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached,” said Weaver, whose company has a North American Headquarters based in downtown Nashville.
The La Vergne plant has 1,100 workers, including 900 direct company employees. The other 200 are contract workers at a plant originally built by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in 1972.
La Vergne mayor posts messages about Bridgestone picketers on Facebook
The six Bridgestone factories under negotiation involve the following local United Steelworkers chapters:
- Local 310L, Des Moines, Iowa
- Local 7L, Akron, Ohio
- Suite 787L, Bloomington, Illinois
- Local 884L, Russellville, Arkansas
- Local 1055L, La Vergne, Tennessee
- Local 1155L, Warren County, Tennessee
The union’s bargaining committee is seeking a fair and just contract, says an online union communication from Drew Rodriguez, president of Local 1155L in Warren County, and Tommy Winkles, who is also with 1155L.
“Unfortunately, the company has not yet offered an agreement that meets the economic needs of our members,” the communication said. “In the meantime, you have shown tremendous support by holding rallies at gates and flagpoles and other demonstrations at all factories.”
La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole noticed the picketers on Tuesday and shared photos of them on Facebook. He asked protesters and commuters to exercise caution to stay safe along the road near the plant.
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About the Bridgestone plant in La Vergne
- Year of construction: 1972
- Manufacturer: Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
- Year of acquisition of the La Vergne plant by Bridgestone Americas: 1983
- Factory Square Feet: 2.2 million
- Acres for Plant: 132
- Location in La Vergne: Bridgestone Parkway near Waldron Road
- Union representing factory employees: United Steelworkers
- Workforce at the La Vergne plant: 1,100
- Number of direct Bridgestone employees: 900
- Number of contractors: 200
Source: Bridgestone Americas spokesperson Emily Weaver