Cooper's Findlay workers consider 5-year contract
Union workers at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co’s plant in Findlay, Ohio, go to the ballot box today to consider a new five-year contract offer that could end the now three-month long lock out at the plant, reports Tire Review. But according to reports in the Findlay Courier this morning, some USW Local 207 members feel it will be a close vote, even though its 1,050 members have been without a paycheck since November 2011.
“This is going to be a close one. This is going to be a tough decision, real tough,” 17-year employee Keith Tennant told the newspaper. “Part of (the proposed contract) is not too bad, parts of it are not good at all. It’s going to be a real tough decision for everybody.”
“I am not going to vote for it,” 29-year employee Don Paugh said. “Bad contract. Jesse James did it with a gun. Cooper Tire’s doing it with a contract.”
Voting on the proposed five-year deal is scheduled to begin at 10:00 ET today and run through 17:00. It is not known when the final tally will be announced. While details of the tentative agreement, which was reached late on 23 February, were not available, some USW Local 207 members told local media that the proposed contract includes a productivity bonus, no pay increase, and increased worker medical insurance contributions.
Off the table, according to reports, is the contentious five-tier wage system the tyre-maker was pushing that led to the labour strife. In its place, though, is a graduated wage system that protects older workers while lowering pay levels for those hired since 2009. And, according to another report, the contract includes a signing bonus of just $800, less than the $2,500 offered back in November and the reported $3,500 per employee bonus included in the new Texarkana contract.
With the tentative deal reached, the USW cancelled planned “Day of Action” pickets at tyre retailers across the country that had been scheduled for 25 February.
In a press release issue by Cooper over the weekend, the company said: “The Findlay plant and its members have been a critical component of Cooper’s success throughout the years as well as a key contributor to the Findlay community. Our main objective during this negotiation was to attain a long-term agreement that better positioned the Findlay plant to succeed in a global competitive environment. We are happy to have reached an agreement that will bring our co-workers back to work with a competitive compensation and benefits package while also solidifying Cooper’s ability to profitably grow our business in the North American market.”
In the same release, Rod Nelson, president of USW Local 207, was quoted as saying: “Our members wanted a fair contract, and we want this plant to be the best in the company. Through some difficult negotiations, we were able to tackle several key issues our people had with the previous tentative agreement and help the company reach its productivity goals. We are proud to work for Cooper and look forward to contributing to its future.”