USW hits court ruling; steps up protests in Cooper factory lockout

Jan. 1, 2020
A recent court ruling regarding imported tires from China is being assailed by the United Steelworkers union (USW).
A recent court ruling regarding imported tires from China is being assailed by the United Steelworkers union (USW).

A U.S. Court of Appeals has declared that the U.S. Commerce Department’s imposition of countervailing duties on Chinese-made off-the-road (OTR) and agricultural tires in 2008 was illegal under American law.

The court held that the U.S. anti-subsidy law – also known as a countervailing duty, or “CVD” – cannot apply to Chinese imports while “China is a non-market economy.”

“The court’s decision undermines the integrity of our trade laws and the ability to address Chinese unfair and predatory trade practices,” says USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

“The court dropped a lump of coal into the stocking of every worker who is working hard, playing by the rules and just hoping for a fair chance to compete against China’s manufacturing and export juggernaut. The sounds of applause coming from Tiananmen Square greeted the court’s decision to legalize its cheating,” he asserts.

“China’s trade practices, according to the Economic Policy Institute, have cost America 2.8 million jobs since that country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001,” according to Gerard.

“The USW has been forced to file numerous trade cases to combat China’s unfair trade practices in the fight for our members’ jobs,” he says. “That’s a fight we don’t plan on giving up. We will work with the administration and call on Congress to either overturn the court’s decision or amend the law. Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake.”

 

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In addition, the union attracted thousands of supporters to a Dec. 17 solidarity rally on behalf of the 1,051 members of Local 207L who have been locked out of Cooper’s Findlay, Ohio tire plant since Nov. 28.

“Management at Cooper Tire needs to stop holding our jobs and this community hostage, end this unfair lockout, join us at the table and bargain in good faith,” says USW Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson, who heads the USW’s tire industry bargaining efforts.

“Our union knows its strength lies in numbers and the power of unity,” says USW District 1 Director Dave McCall, adding that they will continue to ramp up pressure on the tire maker.

“Cooper Tire’s outrageous, unnecessary and unprovoked attack on the loyal, productive and highly skilled workers in Findlay within days of the Thanksgiving holiday speaks for itself,” says Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.

USW Local 207L President Rodney Nelson contends that “the current management has lost touch with the principles that built Cooper in Findlay and lack respect for the history of the company in Findlay and the surrounding areas.”

The descendants of Cooper founders Claude Hart and John Schaefer have expressed their support for the union workers in a letter- to-the-editor sent to a local newspaper: “Locking out employees who helped the company during hard times and hiring scab workers to replace them subverts the purpose of collective bargaining, is contrary to good faith practices and is un-American at the core,” they wrote.

Executives at Cooper have yet to respond to the latest salvo.

For more information, visit www.usw.org and www.coopertire.com.

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