FINDLAY, Ohio–Unionized workers at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. have a new four-year labor agreement after previously turning down a proposed settlement.
Negotiators from Local 207L of the United Steelworkers union and the company hammered out a second deal after workers voted down an earlier proposed settlement.
This new agreement, ratified by a vote of 496-180, provides important language that gives new workers a "progressive tier" that increases their pay over three years, Local 207L President Brian Brubaker said during a March 25 telephone interview.
Installing language into the contract that allows these newer employees to get to 100 percent of the salary of more established workers has been an important issue for the union, he said.
"We just went back to the table and expressed our concerns on a few items," Brubaker said.
The union president was hesitant to talk in great detail about contract specifics, but he did indicate that the four-year agreement does provide for wage increases for all union members. The new contact covers about 800 workers at the Findlay tire plant.
Plant Manager Jeff Kamm said in a statement that the new deal required "much hard work and a thoughtful negotiation process by both the USW and company representatives."
Union members previously voted 427-253 against an earlier proposed settlement in early March. The two sides then returned to the negotiating table an estimated four times to reach a new accord, Brubaker said.
Workers remained on the job working under terms of a contract that expired Feb. 28 as negotiations took place. Talks started in mid-January and the two sides struck that initial proposed agreement in late February.
Cooper is the fifth-largest tire manufacturer in North America, with 4.8-percent of the $48 billion market last year, according to the recently published Tire Business annual Market Data Book. Globally, the company ranks No. 13 with sales of $2.8 billion in 2018.
The Findlay plant dates to 1914 and has an estimated capacity to make 18,000 units per day. Cooper also has manufacturing sites in Texarkana, Ark., and Tupelo, Miss. The Findlay location is the smallest of the three in terms of production as the Arkansas location has an estimated capacity of 26,000 units per day, and the Mississippi site has an estimated capacity of 37,000 tires per day, according to the Rubber & Plastics News Global Tire Report.