FINDLAY, Ohio (Feb. 28, 2012)—Unionized workers at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Findlay tire plant ratified a new five-year labor agreement Feb. 27, bringing an end to a lockout that began Nov. 28.
The agreement, which was approved by a 627 to 321 margin, affects about 1,050 United Steelworkers Local 207L members at the factory. Cooper said a return-to-work plan for locked-out employees will be communicated before the end of the week.
“While enormous time and effort was involved in reaching this labor agreement, leaders from the company and the union share a belief that the new contract will enhance the competitiveness of Cooper's Findlay tire plant through improvements in productivity,” Cooper said in a press release.
The USW put out its own statement prior to voting, noting the agreement with Cooper “is the very best we could do without risking further financial harm to our families, community and our customers that we need to keep the plant thriving and prosperous.”
The union said in the release that unlawful bargaining charges it filed against Cooper with the National Labor Relations Board will continue to be processed.
“It remains our position that the lockout was unlawful because of multiple unfair labor practices committed by the company and that pursuant to the required NLRB remedy for an unlawful lockout, the company must make the locked-out workers whole for all lost wages and benefits,” the USW said. “The NLRB has not yet decided if our charges have merit. If it does, the NLRB will start the litigation process by issuing a complaint against the company.”
The union said the litigation process could take months or years to complete.
Manufacturing costs, including impacts from the labor situation at the company's manufacturing operation in Findlay, Ohio, increased by $10 million.
In its financial results released Feb. 27, Cooper said its manufacturing costs included $3 million to mobilize and train a temporary work force at the Findlay plant, and $8 million of unabsorbed overhead costs. The Findlay plant had limited manufacturing during the last part of the year, including 14 shutdown days followed by a production ramp-up as the temporary work force was relocated to Findlay and trained on Cooper's manufacturing and quality systems, the firm said.
Since arriving, the Findlay-based tire maker said the temporary work force steadily increased production quantities.
Terms of the new contract agreement, which is active through March 1, 2017, have been posted in a PDF document on the USW's website.