LN: Steelworkers locked out at a Cooper Tire plant in Ohio are raising the alarm as scabs move in to start building tires.
The conflict at Cooper’s Findlay plant, where 1,050 Steelworkers build replacement tires for pickups, stems from new machinery the company recently introduced. Tires are mostly hand-built, but the equipment cut a step out of the process.
The company asked the union to accept a new rate system and figure out the details over the coming year. USW’s Pat Gallagher said the union could not tell members what they would be earning, because the company would not define the new production standards.
The Steelworkers offered an extension to the agreement, but Cooper locked them out November 28. CEO Roy V. Armes is also a board member of the Manitowoc Co. in Wisconsin, where workers are on strike over Scott Walker-like union-busting demands.
MILLIONS IN GIVEBACKS
The Steelworkers are incensed by the lockout because the union gave back $31.2 million in concessions in the last contract and because the union had helped manufacturers like Cooper by lobbying successfully for a tariff on Chinese tires.
The tariff curtailed imports, boosted Cooper’s profitability, and allowed it to buy the new equipment, the union says. Cooper, which produces tires in China, did not join the call for the tariff—but now says its expiration next year mandates another round of concessions.
The company wants a five-tier wage scheme, no defined-benefit pensions for new hires, and no health care coverage for future retirees. Cooper made $302.4 million in profit between 2009 and September 2011.
- peterwk posted this