With no signs of progress in talks to end a month-long strike against Uniroyal Inc., federal mediators began to probe B. F. Goodrich Co. yesterday for a key to unlocking the rubber industry's jammed contract negotiations.
At the invitation of chief federal mediator Wayne L. Horvitz, top negotiators for Goodrich and the United Rubber Workers came here for 6 1/2 hours of "exploratory talks" and are scheduled to resume the talks on Monday, according to URW President Peter Bommarito.
Neither Horvitz nor the bargaining teams would comment on whether any progress was made. But Bommarito said the two sides discussed specific contract issues that are in dispute between the union and Uniroyal.
The URW struck Uniroyal last month after accusing the company, the country's third largest tire maker, of reneging on an earlier agreement under pressure from Carter administration anti-inflation officials. Uniroyal denied it had agreed to anything but confirmed that administration officials were applying pressure.
The dispute led to expediting an AFL-CIO suit against the government, which resulted in a ruling, now on appeal, that President Carter lacks constitutional authority, to impose economic sanctions against violators of anti-inflation guidelines.
Uniroyal has been negotiating on-and-off in Akron, Ohio, with the URW since the strike began, but with no apparent progress. Uniroyal-URW talks were suspended Thursday and are scheduled to resume next week.
One company is normally chosen as a bargaining target in the rubber industry, with other companies later following the pattern it sets. This year the URW chose Uniroyal.
Goodrich became a logical second round bargaining target because Goodyear was the union's target company three years ago and Firestone, the other company in the industry's "big four," agreed earlier to go along with whatever the rest of the industry negotiates. Goodrich also has improved its relations with the union recently, and their officials are reportedly on good terms.