AKRON-Goodyear and Titan International Inc. have extended until Sept. 1 the deadline to complete the purchase by Titan of Goodyear´s farm tire business.
The companies announced in February Goodyear would sell the unprofitable business to Titan for $100 million. The deal-which includes Goodyear´s Freeport, Ill., plant, equipment and about $47 million in inventory-depends on Titan reaching an accord with the United Steelworkers union, which represents the hourly workers in Freeport.
Initially the companies set June 30 as the date after which either could terminate the deal if it had not closed or if an agreement with the union was not reached. In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Titan said the date was extended.
Maurice Taylor Jr., president and CEO of Titan, said his company and the union are in talks and working through items one at a time.
"Everything is progressing, it´s just a little slower than we would have liked," he said. "Time will take care of things."
Steve Vanderheyden, president of Freeport´s Local 745, said talks mostly stalled in late February after the two sides had difficulty agreeing on a set of ground rules on which to base contract negotiations.
"Until we both agree to a framework for talks to proceed, there´s really no reason for us to meet," he said.
Vanderheyden said the process itself-slicing Freeport out of Goodyear´s master contract with the USW and starting over with a new employer-is a difficult one. But he admitted the union is acting cautiously in light of past showdowns between the Steelworkers and Titan, including a 40-month strike at Titan´s Des Moines, Iowa, plant starting in 1998.
"(The union membership is) very aware and very cautious about entering an employment relationship with a company with this kind of reputation," Vanderheyden said.
Still, he said the potential for a deal in time for the new Sept. 1 deadline remains open.