FINDLAY, Ohio-Union members at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Findlay tire plant overwhelmingly ratified a new contract Oct. 17, two weeks before the old pact was to expire. The pact ensures that all of Cooper's facilities will remain operating while strikes contin-ue at five Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. locations and two Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. (PATC) tire plants.
No new talks were scheduled in either standoff; but a judge did issue a temporary order delaying Pirelli's plan to cut off health coverage for retirees.
In an effort to pressure BFS and PATC to negotiate with the union, United Rubber Workers members conducted ``informational picketing'' Saturday, Oct. 22, at retail outlets in 32 cities in 11 states that carry the companies' flag brands, including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and BFS company-owned stores.
``We want the public to know that we are saying: `Don't buy Bridgestone and Firestone tires, and don't buy Pirelli and Armstrong tires,' '' said URW International President Kenneth Coss.
URW Local 207 in Findlay voted by a 71-percent majority to accept a contract that includes a general wage increase, continues the cost-of-living allowance and improves pensions and life insurance.
Both sides commented on how these negotiations differed from those in 1991, when Local 207 struck for three weeks because of the company's position on health care.
``It's the first time in Findlay we've ever settled before the expiration,'' said Jim Geers, Cooper director of industrial relations.
The union and management each said the ongoing strikes in the tire industry didn't affect negotiations.
In the PATC dispute, a federal judge in Des Moines, Iowa, issued a temporary order to block PATC's plan to cut retirees' health benefits. The order expired Oct. 24, but another hearing was to be scheduled to consider other court action to further block Pirelli's plan.
A trial is set to begin Nov. 3 in Nashville on lawsuits filed both by Pirelli and the URW regarding the matter.