Cooper Sheds 500 Jobs at Texarkana
Cooper has notified workers at the company’s Texarkana plant of its intention to cut 400 – 500 jobs, switching the factory to a “flex” facility. Local newspapers are reporting that the factory will go to a “five-day, three-crew schedule during the second quarter of 2007.” As a result production is expected to drop 30 per cent. Production will then be decreased a further 15 per cent in 2008.
“While we regret the impact on the individuals and families affected by these changes, it will help make Cooper a stronger company, which is good for many people here in Texarkana and around the country,” plant manager John Bodart said in a statement issued on Friday 22 September. “This type of change is difficult, but necessary to remain competitive and viable in the future. We will make every effort to support all our employees during this challenging time,” the statement read. The proposed job-cuts are currently scheduled to take place in May 2007.
The Texarkana plant has about 1,900 employees, and about 1,600 of them are members of United Steelworkers of America Local 752L. Bodart said both groups of workers would be effective. However, the exact breakdown is not clear.
The so-called flex plant will be set-up to produce “short runs”, which will increase the profitability of Cooper manufacturing, according to the Cooper statement. Bodart told the Texarkana Gazette the new manufacturing plan at Cooper will allow the company to produce tyres from 14 to 24 inches in different constructions.
Texarkana is one of four tyre plants Cooper operates in the US. The others are in Albany, Georgia, Tupelo, Mississippi, and Findlay, Ohio, will maintain full capacity. The cost-per-tyre will be lowered for all four tyre plants combined, according to Cooper’s reorganisation plan.