Negotiators for the United Rubber Workers and the B.F. Goodrich Co. were reportedly "inching" toward a settlement yesterday as they headed into a make-break effort to resolve the rubber industry's protracted contract dispute.
The bargainers said they expected to talk through the night, if necessary, in an attempt to reach an agreement. If they failed, they indicated, the negotiations would probably be suspended.
The talks, which started here last Friday at the behest of chief federal mediator Wayne L. Horvitz, represent the best chance for a settlement since the URW struck Uniroyal Inc. May 9 in a bargaining deadlock over the Carter administration's wage guidelines. The first company that settles with the union is expected to set the pattern for the whole industry.
The union has better relations with Goodrich than with Uniroyal, and Goodrich has indicated it will not necessarily be bound by the 7 percent a year guideline for wage and benefit increases. Bargainers have said the guidelines have not been an issue in the Goodrich-URW talks.
Asked how the talks were going yesterday morning, Peter Pdstillo. Goodrich's chief negotiator, quoted Horvitz as saying the two parties were "inching toward a settlement" and added, "I agree."
When the bargainers broke for dinner in the mid-evening, Pestillo said he was "optimistic but guardedly so" that an agreement could be reached sometime during the night. URW President Peter Bommarito said it was "a question mark" whether a number of outstanding issues could be resolved. Horvitz said the negotiating atmosphere was "excellent" but added, "they've got a long way to go."