FINDLAY, Ohio—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will suspend production temporarily at its tire plants in the U.S. and Mexico "to protect the health and safety of employees and respond to market demand that has been impacted by (the) coronavirus."
Cooper said it started phasing down production March 21, and it plans to proceed "on a rolling schedule" over the coming week, with facilities expected to be closed for two to three weeks.
Cooper operates three plants in in the U.S. and one in Mexico, employing approximately 5,200 hourly workers.
The company also said it is assessing plans for its Europe operations, and said its plants in China, which reopened several weeks ago, remain in operation.
Cooper said it will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust timelines as necessary.
Cooper is monitoring supply chain and product inventory levels as the company focuses on continuing to serve customers, the company said. Cooper believes it currently has sufficient supply of product, and will continue to operate distribution centers until further notice to meet customer needs.
"As the coronavirus has continued to spread across the globe," Cooper said, it "has put in place measures to protect employees and meet the needs of all stakeholders including travel restrictions, remote working, social distancing, additional cleaning and disinfecting of facilities, limited visitor access and other necessary steps, which all remain in effect."
New labor agreement
Additionally, Cooper said unionized workers at its Findlay plant have ratified a four-year labor agreement, less than three weeks after they rejected the company's first offer.
Cooper did not disclose the vote tally by the members of United Steelworkers Local 207L in Findlay. The contract covers approximately 800 USW members.
"With much hard work and a thoughtful negotiation process by both the USW and company representatives, we are pleased that Findlay plant employees recognized the value of the new contract. We appreciate our positive relationship with the USW as our great team in Findlay continues to produce great tires," said Jeff Kamm, plant manager of Cooper's Findlay plant.