Update – Cooper Findlay labour agreement ratified
Almost three months to the day after the announcement of a lockout at Cooper Tire & Rubber’s Findlay factory in the US state of Ohio, agreement on a new labour agreement has been reached by the tyre maker and the United Steelworkers union. On 27 February Cooper announced that USW Local 207L has ratified a five-year agreement that covers some 1,050 union members at the Findlay plant. Union members voted 627 to 321 in favour of the agreement.
“Both the company and the union are pleased to have reached an agreement and are looking forward to the Findlay plant employees returning to work,” stated a Cooper Tire press release. “While enormous time and effort was involved in reaching this labour agreement, leaders from the company and the union share a belief that the new contract will enhance the competitiveness of Cooper’s Findlay tyre plant through improvements in productivity. An orderly return to work plan will be communicated before the end of the week.”
Speaking on behalf of the USW, Local 207L president Rodney Nelson commented “our brothers and sisters have once again made their voices heard. As a committee, we are proud to have remained united and delivered a fair contract, despite Cooper’s best attempts to divide us.”
In a press statement, USW District 1 director Dave McCall also praised the members of Local 207L for their “solidarity and determination” after being “illegally locked out by Cooper” despite the union’s “good faith offer to continue working under the terms of the previous agreement” while negotiations toward a new one proceeded. “Cooper needs to acknowledge that its loyal, productive and efficient USW workforce is the company’s most valuable asset in Findlay and treat them with the respect and dignity they have earned,” McCall said. “For many years, Cooper was a good example of how workers and management could work together toward common goals and the greater good of the community.”
McCall said that the company’s standing has “undeniably changed” and that the “union’s battle for justice” in Findlay has not ended. “Breaking federal labour laws, importing a temporary replacement workforce and demanding unfair and unreasonable wage and benefit cuts instead of negotiating in good faith are not the actions of a responsible corporate citizen,” he commented.
The USW filed unfair labour practice charges against Cooper with the National Labor Relations Board shortly after the lockout began. According to the USW, if these charges are upheld the tyre maker may be liable to pay wages for the time the Board determines the lockout illegal. “We look forward to an answer from the NLRB on those charges,” McCall stated. “Cooper will not escape accountability for its actions.”