FINDLAY, Ohio (Dec. 29, 2011)—As the calendar gets ready to roll over to 2012, the lockout at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Findlay tire plant enters its sixth week, with contract negotiations between the company and United Steelworkers Local 207L remaining at a standstill.
Bargaining between the two parties was on hold for the last week of December but is expected to start up again the first week of January. Representatives from both sides acknowledged the talks haven't resulted in much progress.
Meanwhile, officials at Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services ruled Dec. 21 that the 1,000-plus unionized employees who were locked out of the plant Nov. 28 are eligible for unemployment benefits and can apply immediately. Cooper Tire has 21 days to appeal the decision.
Following the lockout, Cooper hired dozens of temporary workers to fill in for its Findlay employees in hopes of maintaining production there and avoiding potential work stoppages at its Texarkana, Ark., plant, where the current labor pact is set to expire Jan. 20. Members of USW Local 752L in Texarkana have voted to give their executive board authority to declare a strike should the need arise, though President David Boone Sr. said that would be a last resort.
A spokeswoman for Cooper said initial discussions with Texarkana union representatives began Dec. 7, and the company is hopeful that “with the concerted effort of both parties” it will reach an agreement before the deadline.
No sessions have been scheduled as of yet, Cooper's spokeswoman said, but the company is prepared to resume negotiations.