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Cooper Ark. plant workers OK revised contract

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TEXARKANA, Ark. (Nov. 22, 2013) — Workers at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s plant in Texarkana have approved a revised labor contract by an 84-percent majority.

The vote, by members of United Steelworkers Local 752L, is part of the process Cooper is pursuing to clear some hurdles to get the merger process with India's Apollo Tyres Ltd. back on track.

Neither Cooper nor Local 752L disclosed particulars of the revised contract.

USW Local 556L at Cooper's Clarksdale, Miss., rubber mixing plant approved a tentative agreement there Nov. 1.

These revised contracts are being pursued to the hope of settling a complaint filed by the USW on Aug. 1 claiming that Cooper's deal to be acquired by Apollo violated successorship clauses in the company's labor contracts with USW locals at Findlay, Ohio, and Texarkana, Ark.

The parties agreed to binding arbitration over the matter, and the arbitrator ruled in the union's favor Sept. 13. The arbitrator ruled that Cooper put the sale of its plants on hold until Apollo and the USW could agree on contracts covering about 2,500 USW members at Locals 752L in Texarkana and 207L in Findlay.

Members of Local 752L approved a four-year labor agreement with Cooper in January 2012. This revision affects that contract.

Following the vote at Clarksdale, Cooper said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it also said it has entered into a waiver agreement with the USW and the locals that "provides that the tentative labor agreements reached amongst Cooper Tire, the unions and USW Local 556L…will, in certain cases, satisfy the arbitrator's ruling so long as the merger closes on or before Nov. 18, 2013, even if such agreements are not yet ratified by union membership at that time."

It's not known whether members of USW Local 207 in Findlay are considering the revised contract.

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