U.S. Army May Break Steelworker's Strike!
By Bernard Simon in Toronto
The US Army is considering measures to force striking workers back to
their jobs at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas in the face of a
looming shortage of tyres for Humvee trucks and other military equipment
used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A strike involving 17,000 members of the United Steelworkers union has
crippled 16 Goodyear plants in the US and Canada since October 5.
The main issues in dispute are the company's plans to close a unionised
plant in Texas, and a proposal for workers to shoulder future increases in
An army spokeswoman said on Friday that "there's not a shortage right now
but there possibly will be one in the future".
According to Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House of Representatives armed
services committee, the strike has cut output of Humvee tyres by about 35
Mr Hunter said that the army had stopped supplying tyres to units not
related to the Central Command, which is responsible for operations in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Tyres were also not being provided to army repair
While concern has centred on the Humvees, tyres are also critical to
aircraft and other military equipment.
Goodyear brushed off concerns of looming shortages, saying that production
at the Kansas plant, where the Humvee tyres are made, "is near normal
levels and will be back to 100 per cent in the near future."
It added that "we're in daily contact with the military to ensure delivery
of the required Humvee tyres".
The company said it was using salaried and temporary workers to keep the
Kansas plant running. It has taken similar measures at other plants, as
well as stepping up imports from overseas factories to maintain supplies
to the car and truck industry.
The union claims that the strikebound plants are running at about 20 per
cent of capacity. Goodyear has said that North American output is at about
half normal levels, including non-union plants.
According to Mr Hunter, the army is exploring a possible injunction under
the Taft-Hartley Act to force the 200 Kansas workers back to their jobs.
He proposed that they return under their current terms of employment, on
the understanding that any settlement would be extended to them.
The Labor-Management Relations Act, commonly known as the Taft-Hartley
Act, is a United States federal law that severely restricts the activities
and power of labor unions. The Act, still largely in effect, was sponsored
by Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr.. U.S.
President Harry S. Truman described the act as a "slave-labor bill" and
vetoed it, adding that it would "conflict with important principles of our
democratic society". The Senate followed the House of Representatives in
overriding Truman's veto on June 23, 1947, establishing the act as a law.
The Taft-Hartley Act amended the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA, also
known as the Wagner Act), which Congress had passed in 1935.