FINDLAY, Ohio (Feb. 23, 2012)—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and United Steelworkers Local 207L resumed contract talks Feb. 21 in Findlay on Cooper's latest proposed contract, which union negotiators said didn't match up with the tire maker's offer at its Texarkana, Ark., plant.
Cooper locked out the 1,050 members of Local 207L Nov. 27 after they voted down the company's proposed contract offer, and the two sides have been at an impasse since.
Company and union representatives met Feb. 21, 22 and 23—the first meetings since Dec. 13—but neither side reported any progress in the talks.
Cooper earlier struck a new labor deal with workers at its Clarksdale, Miss., tube and bladder plant as well as with fleet truck drivers in Findlay represented by Teamsters Local 20.
The company prefaced its latest offer, a five-year deal, by saying the Findlay plant “must be more competitive, globally, to be able to compete in the marketplace with imported tires from low cost countries into the North American marketà. Cooper is keenly aware of the necessity to be price competitive in the private label business market, especially against imports. From a business perspective, we must obtain product from where we believe will offer the best opportunity to compete in the marketplace and be profitable.”
In its latest contract proposal—a copy of which was posted on the Local 207L website—Cooper makes a number of conciliatory changes related to the graduated wage program and pensions for existing employees, but cautions that these changes are valid only if the contract is approved before 6 p.m. Feb. 29.
In a letter to union members posted on its website, the Local 207L negotiating committee said it was “extremely disappointed with the proposal.”
“Their offer does not even mirror the agreement reached at Texarkana,” the negotiating committee said, referring to the contract approved Jan. 26 by unionized workers at Cooper's tire plant in Texarkana, Ark.