USW deal brings Cooper closer to Apollo agreement

A merger-facilitating deal has been struck between Cooper Tire & Rubber and the United Steelworkers Union. On 30 October, the tyre maker entered into a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers and United Steelworkers (USW) Local 207L (representing workers at the company’s Findlay plant) and Local 752L (Texarkana), along with USW Local 556L (Clarksdale). Details of the tentative agreement have not yet been disclosed –the agreement must first meet with Apollo’s approval and be ratified by union members. Apollo Tyres made its initial thoughts on the tentative deal known in papers filed with the Delaware Chancery Court on 1 November; the Indian tyre maker described the tentative agreement as a “last-minute stunt”.

In connection with the tentative agreements, Cooper Tire also entered into a waiver agreement with the USW. Amongst other points, the waiver agreement provides that the tentative labour agreements reached between Cooper Tire, USW Local 207L, Local 752L and Local 556L will, in certain cases, satisfy the arbitrator’s ruling of 13 September so long as the merger with Apollo’s subsidiary closes on or before 18 November 2013, even if the tentative agreements are not yet ratified by union membership at that time.

These tentative agreements relate to the grievances filed by employees at Cooper’s Findlay and Texarkana plants on 1 August, which stated that the tyre maker had violated the successorship provisions of the collective bargaining agreement applicable to each plant by entering into an agreement with Apollo Tyres that would see Cooper merge with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Apollo. The USW agreed to binding arbitration regarding this dispute and, on 13 September 2013, the arbitrator ruled that an Apollo subsidiary must reach agreements with the union before the merger may close.

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