Rubber industry negotiations resumed face-to-face talks yesterday against a backdrop of continued bickering over whether Uniroyal Inc. reneged on an agreement last week under pressure from government inflation fighters.
An industry spokesman reported some progress as Uniroyal and United Rubber Workers bargainers talked into the night and then quit with plans to resume today.
Chief federal mediator Wayne L. Horvitz, while avoiding any charaterization of the progress or lack of it, said there was no change in the union's day-to-day suspension of strike action. The URW's contract with the "Big Four" rubber companies-Goodyear, Firestone, Uniroyal and Goodrich-expired Friday midnight.
URW President Peter Bommarito, who earlier targeted Uniroyal for bargaining to reach an industry-wide settlement, told reporters last night that Uniroyal was in a "delicate position"-an apparent reference to the company's claim that it never agreed to guideline-busting terms, despite the union's claim to the contrary.
Earlier in the day, after morning talks that reported were devoted entirely to rehasing the question of whether there had been agreement on money issues, Bommarito told reporters that differences between the two sides had widened rather than narrowed.
He said Uniroyal yesterday's "added some other disagreements" to the two points of dispute that emerged late last week after Bommarito claimed to have a tentative agreement with Unrioyal and two other companies, only to have the companies deny his claim.
Bommarito did not specify what the new issues are. The two he cited last week were the union's demand for a fattening of the industry's cost-of-living formula and a hands-off policy toward organizing new plants.
Talking to reporters after the morning session, Uniroyal's chief negotiator, Edward H. Finkenstadt, reiterated the company's assertion that it never had an agreement with the union but acknowledged that the government had been pressing the company to resist a settlement in excess of the 7 percent guideline for annual wage and benefit increases. Bommarito stuck by his claim that the company reneged on a settlement because of government pressure.
According to government, industry and union sources, the proposal envisioned wage and benefit increases of about 40 percent over three years-far in excess of the 30 percent settlement the Teamsters won earlier this month after the wage standard was stretched to accommodate a settlement.
Anti-inflation officials figured Uniroyal was close enough to an agreement last Thursday that they brought heavy pressure on all four major rubber companies to stand firm behind the guidelines.
O. Pendlteon Thomas, chairman of B.F.Goodrich, told reporters yesterday he understand that Uniroyal had been "close to an understanding" with the union and added that the near-agreement was complicating the industry's current bargaining position. He said Goodrich wants to stick by the guidelines and asserted that a 40 percent settlement would be "very horrible" for the industry.
Meanwhile, in other labor-related disputes:
Steel hauling work stoppages continued as the National Steel Carriers Association refused to go along with three other steel carrier groups that have approved a tentative new contact with the Teamsters, NSCA, which represents about 50 companies with 8,000 drivers, said it will bargain separately with the Teamsters.
Drivers for companies in the other associations were reported by industry sources to be returning to work, but steel industry layoffs, affecting about 5,000 production workers, continued.
Labor Secretary Ray Marshall told a gathering of building trades unions that he will oppose efforts in Congress to weaken or repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, which calls for "prevailing" wages, usually at union rates, on government construction projects. Conservatives, backed by construction industry groups, are mounting a campaign to scuttle the nearly half-century-old legislation. Marshall said construction wages have not been inflationary and denounced a General Accounting Office report that said they were labeling it a "sloppy piece of work."
New York City, already plagued by a raft of strikes, was hit by a walkout of about 25,000 apartment house doormen, elevator operators and security guards-leaving an estimated 1 million high-rise dwellers to fend for themselves. And attorneys for the state went to court to seek contempt penalities against union officials who are defying a no-strike order issued a week ago against 8,000 prison guards.
Strike-bound United Airlines extended cancellation of scheduled flights through May 5 as federal mediators said they foresaw no quick breakthrough in recently resumed negotiations between the airline and striking machinists. United has been grounded since the union struck April.