As of Tuesday, workers with Firestone who have been on strike, are going back to work without a contract, according to Richard Landry, Staff Representative with the United Steel Workers Union.

However, they are waiting on approval from the company.

Landry also commented and said they are still negotiating the terms of the contract.

The United Steel Workers Union, Local 836,  representing 108 members, have been on strike against Firestone Polymers located at 5713 Fm 1006 in Orange.

Workers were at the gates of the plant beginning March 18 and two of the workers held signs and paced back and forth across the driveway. According to Richard Landry, staff representative, it is against the law in Texas to “mass picket.” Therefore, the workers alternate carrying the signs. The last time workers with USW Local 836 picketed was in 1993.

There are two main reasons why they chose to strike which are health care and wages, Landry said.

The workers want the right to be able to negotiate their co-pay, deductible and premium amounts on their insurance plans. The insurance deductible recently proposed by Firestone has tripled in costs to the workers, Landry said.

However, the insurance company is not new to Firestone, since the corporation has been using the plan, but Orange has not had the same program.

“What we are saying is that we want the right to sit at the table and achieve a fair deal,” Landry said.

Their other source of contention was the amount of the annual cost of living raises which is two percent. The annual raises are part of the contract.

“We are willing to consider any proposal, but two percent is not enough,” Landry said.

The strike will continue as long as needed, Landry said.

It has been our goal throughout the negotiation process to achieve a contract that is in the best interest of the local union members, will allow our company to compete in the global marketplace, and will ensure that as a company we are profitable now and in the long term. We believe that the contract offered to the USW would have moved the Orange, Texas plant toward those goals.

Firestone Polymers remains committed to searching for and achieving a mutually acceptable resolution of all issues at the bargaining table,” according to a statement from Firestone Polymers.

Firestone Polymers celebrated its 50th year of operation in Orange in 2007. In 1957, the plant opened and began operation by producing butadiene for the polymer industry. The Orange facility is said to be an industry leader in the production of Polybutadiene rubber.

The plant manufactures two types of synthetic rubber products. Diene which is their our trade name for polymerized Polybutadiene rubber. It is a high quality product that has become the standard against which such products are measured. Stereon is a trade name for polymerized styrene butadiene di-block and tri-block copolymers. These versatile block copolymers and thermoplastic elastomers can be found in many plastic, rubber, and adhesive products.

Attempts to reach Firestone Polymers for additional comment were unsuccessful since calls were not returned.