Labor strife with union hits Cooper's tire production plant in Ohio

Jan. 1, 2020
Cooper is bringing in temporary employees to staff its Findlay, Ohio plant following the tire maker's lockout of the United Steel Workers union (USW).
Cooper is bringing in temporary employees to staff its Findlay, Ohio plant following the tire maker's lockout of the United Steel Workers union (USW).

“While certain production adjustments may be necessary in the short-term, Cooper will continue to supply its customers with the quality products they have come to expect,” the company says, adding that it is “committed to making every effort to support its customers during this labor action.”

Union officials say they are contemplating the pursuit of “unlawful bargaining charges” against Cooper with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The USW says it wishes to continue efforts to settle the dispute while also condemning the lockout, which was implemented “despite the union’s good faith offer to keep working while negotiations toward a new labor contract proceeded.”

A previously negotiated tentative agreement between leadership representatives of the USW and Cooper executives was rejected by the rank and file by a 2-1 margin. Neither side will disclose the terms of the proposed pact.

“These negotiations have been hindered considerably by Cooper’s behavior at the bargaining table and the company’s determination to instigate a labor dispute,” says USW District 1 sub-director Patrick Gallagher.

“Cooper’s intent to test our solidarity became clear the moment the company refused our offer to continue working until we reached a new contract,” he adds.

“Our members are proud of their longstanding relationships with Cooper’s loyal customers,” notes Rod Nelson, USW Local 207L president “We urge Cooper management to return to negotiations at once so that these relationships are not strained.”



Local 207L represents more than 1,000 hourly workers in Findlay, while USW Local 752L represents Cooper employees in Texarkana, Ark.

Seeking to avoid simultaneous work stoppages at the plants, Cooper counters that it “advanced several options to avoid the contract overlap that is looming, including a last, best and final proposal for a new long-term contract and an offer to extend the recently expired contract for an additional year with no change in terms.”

The company goes on to say that union negotiators were unwilling to continue the contract for more than 30 days, “which would have placed the labor agreements at two of Cooper’s major U.S. facilities even closer together.”

It was made clear to the union at the start of the bargaining process three months ago that obtaining “a competitive, cost-effective and timely agreement” was a necessary outcome, according to the company.

Cooper says it is committed to “reaching an agreement with the USW that recognizes the realities of the tire industry while providing a competitive wage and benefit package for its employees.”

Plans for further negotiating sessions between the two sides are currently under discussion.

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