The Carter administration wage guidelines headed for another test yesterday as the United Rubber Workers and B.F. Goodrich Co. agreed to begin negotiations aimed at reaching an industry-wide contract and ending the month-long strike against Uni-royal Inc.
Peter Pestillo, chief negotiator for Goodrich, declined to say whether the company will be strictly bound by the administration's "voluntary" standard of 7 percent a year for wage and benefit increases.
"We're cognizant of the existence of the guidelines and we're not cavalierly rejecting them," said Pestillo. But he added that, "as a practical matter, they are a simple declaration by te president" and have been "badly battered" in recent months. The company is not ignoring the guidelines, Pestillo said, but, "we have an obligation to our people and to the URW."
The URW struck Uniroyal May 9 after charging that the company reneged under pressure from the administration to stay within the guidelines.
The union has continued to work at the other rubber companies, including Goodrich, as it pursued negotiations with Uniroyal an on-and-off basis over the past month.
Chief federal mediator Wayne L. Horvitz, seeking to move the rubber industry negotiations off dead center, brought the union and Goodrich together Friday for exploratory talks aimed at starting real negotiations.