Lockout announced at Cooper’s Findlay plant
Following the failure of Cooper Tire and the United Steelworkers to reach an agreement on a new long-term contract for unionised workers at Cooper’s Findlay, Ohio factory, the tyre maker announced on 28 November an immediate lockout of USW members at the facility.
In a press release announcing the lockout, Cooper stated: “At the onset and throughout negotiations which began nearly three months ago, Cooper made it clear to the USW that a competitive, cost-effective and timely agreement needed to be reached to avoid a risk to Cooper and its customers of simultaneous work stoppages in Findlay and Cooper’s Texarkana, Arkansas manufacturing facility. The Company 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 USW was unwilling to extend the contract more than 30 days, which would have placed the labour agreements at two of Cooper’s major US facilities even closer together.
“Cooper plans to continue manufacturing operations at the Findlay facility with a temporary workforce during the lockout,” the tyre maker’s statement continued. “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. Cooper is committed to making every effort to support its customers during this labour action.”
The statement concluded with Cooper Tire saying it “is also committed to reaching an agreement with the USW that recognises the realities of the tyre industry while providing a competitive wage and benefit package for its employees.” The company says that dates for future negotiations are currently being finalised.
Speaking from the other side of this conflict, a press statement from the United Steelworkers condemns the lockout at the “profitable Findlay, Ohio production facility, despite the union’s good faith offer to keep working while negotiations toward a new labour contract proceeded.” USW District 1 director Dave McCall added that he expects the union to pursue unlawful bargaining charges against Cooper with the National Labor Relations Board and reiterated the union is still committed to negotiating a fair contract in Findlay.
“These negotiations have been hindered considerably by Cooper’s behaviour at the bargaining table and the company’s determination to instigate a labour dispute,” commented 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.”
“Our members are proud of their longstanding relationships with Cooper’s loyal customers,” added Rod Nelson, president of USW Local 207L, which represents more than 1,000 workers at the Findlay plant. “We urge Cooper management to return to negotiations at once so that these relationships are not strained.”