Unionized workers are demanding Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. address how job security and pensions would be affected by the company’s buyout.
Cooper is resisting, and the dispute is in the hands of an arbitrator since a hearing last week. The arbitrator is expected to issue a decision by Sept. 11.
Cooper has stated that existing labor agreements would continue after the buyout by Apollo Tyres of India. Cooper shareholders will vote Sept. 30 on whether to approve the sale.
United Steelworkers Local 207L is accusing Cooper of disobeying a labor contract stipulation that Cooper and Apollo reach an agreement with the union before the sale is complete. The union represents workers at the Findlay and Texarkana, Ark., plants.
Cooper Tire believes the labor contract stipulation does not apply to the purchase by Apollo Tyres, said Anne Roman, vice president of communications and public affairs for Cooper Tire.
Roman said Cooper Tire has provided the union with information about Apollo, the deal and its benefits related to Cooper’s “long-term growth opportunities.”
Unionized workers want Cooper to address their concerns about job security and pensions, Local 207L President Rodney Nelson said.
Nelson said unionized workers also fear Cooper’s debt payments will be so large after the buyout that it will be unable to afford improvements at its plants in the United States.
“The union believes that our demands and concerns must be met before Apollo acquires Cooper, so that (unionized) employees will have assurances in writing to provide for adequate job security, as well as pension and insurance financial protections in the event Apollo takes over,” the union’s executive board stated to workers in a letter.
“We are not opening the contract,” the union’s executive board stated. “What we are asking for is that our concerns be addressed before the sale is final!”
Roman said that despite the differences, United Steelworkers International and the local unions have not expressed opposition to the Apollo purchase.