Ohio Workers In Lockout File Unfair Labor Charge

Cooper Tire union laborBy John Seewer


TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- Factory workers who have been locked out for over a week accused Cooper Tire of unfair labor practices, accusing the company of asking them to approve a contract without knowing how much money they would be making.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. locked out about 1,000 workers at its plant in Findlay on Nov. 28, a day after union members voted down a tentative three-year agreement. The company has brought in temporary workers to keep the plant operating and prevent a work stoppage at its factory in Texarkana, Ark.

Members of the United Steelworkers filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, saying the company isn't being upfront about the contract being offered.

A message seeking comment was left with Cooper Tire on Thursday.

Cooper Tire, which is based in Findlay, makes replacement tires for cars and trucks. Company officials have said they need a competitive agreement to keep operating and have blamed union leaders for not accepting offers to extend the current contract.

The company said it couldn't reach agreement with the union on a new, long-term deal or a one-year extension. The union would only accept a 30-day extension, Cooper Tire said.

The sides have been talking to each other since the lockout began.

Union workers want to regain some concessions they accepted in 2008 in hopes of saving their jobs. That contract included wage and benefits cuts that cost workers $30 million over three years, union officials said.

That agreement came at a time when Cooper Tire said it planned to close one of its four U.S. plants because of slumping demand for tires and higher production costs. It later closed its factory in Albany, Ga.

Cooper Tire announced Thursday that it has agreed to buy a tire plant in Krusevac, Serbia, that it said will give it an opening into Russia and Europe.



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