The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was founded the year of 1898 in the city of Akron, Ohio by a man named Frank Seiberling. The company was named after Charles Goodyear whom was responsible for the development of vulcanized rubber. Goodyear began with only thirteen workers but quickly emerged as a leader in the production of rubber items, and by 1926 had become the world’s largest rubber company. Goodyear led the industry in the development of new products and continued its success throughout the twentieth century producing the first tubeless automobile tire in 1903, and also producing the first airplane tires in 1909 (Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, 2007).
As the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company became the prominent leader of its industry, the workers that provided the labor which produced the innovative products of Goodyear were suffering. Factory workers were forced to endure poor working conditions, low wages, and minimal benefits. In the year 1935 the workers of Goodyear, as well as B.F. Goodrich, and Firestone decided to focus their collective efforts toward changing these conditions. The workers established a union which they named the United Rubber Workers. This newly formed union organized its first strike the following year in 1934 (Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, 2007). The Bargaining Power of a Unionized Workforce
The organization of the United Rubber Workers enabled the workforce of the rubber industry to unite and fight for better working conditions. In order to be recognized and taking seriously the union organized and orchestrated a strike. The union’s first strike began as a protest against a plan created by Goodyear to reduce wages and increase the pace of production. By depleting the company’s source of labor, management was forced to adhere to the demands of the union and this resulted in the negotiation of labor contracts (Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, 2007). The organized efforts of the United Rubber Workers not only forced companies to improve working conditions, but has also initiated the government’s involvement with the creation of legislation that is The Wagner Act. The Wagner Act was passed making the organization of unions legal for the first time in United States history. The result of the implementation of this new legislation led to the establishment of an umbrella organization for multiple unions. This organization was called the Congress of Industrial Organizations and allowed multiple unions to work together providing both moral and material support to CIO members, and strength in numbers (Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, 2007). The Law and Labor
Although unionized workforces have had an immense impact on the conditions of labor, “the courts have made it harder and harder to make their workplaces fair and safe” (Worker’s Rights, 2007, para. 1). There have been several instances where courts have denied the claims of workers in cases where the worker has been unfairly treated. In 1998, the Supreme Court made a decision relating to workers over 40 years of age who are discriminated against, fired, or demoted on the basis of their age. This ruling denied complainants from receiving back pay or any other monetary damages from state employers, which leaves workers 40 years of age or older without any legal protection from age discrimination. This ruling also affected workers with disabilities even if the disability does not affect their work (Worker’s Rights, 2007). “In March of 2002, the Supreme Court weakened the almost 80-year-old protections of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), to make it almost impossible for undocumented workers to enforce their hard-earned workers rights” (Worker’s Rights, 2007, para.5). Due to the results of this of this case, there are now few, if any, legal consequences for an employer who fires an undocumented worker for union activity (Worker’s Rights, 2007). Conclusion
The conception of unionized workforces has had a definite impact on the fairness and safety conditions to which companies provide for their workers. Although unions have made great progress in establishing standards of what is fair and acceptable for the labor community, many companies in accordance with the law continue to push the envelope on what should be respectable employment practices. The evidence provided by the records of Supreme Court rulings in regards to worker’s rights show us that the protections of our
civil rights continue to be stripped.
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. (2007). Ohio History Central. Retrieved from http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org › History › Organizations Workers’ Rights. (2007). The National Campaign to Restore Worker’s Rights. Retrieved from http://www.rollbackcampaign.org/issues/item.WORKERS_RIGHTS