Change in minimum tread depth proposed WASHINGTON—A tire industry consultant has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to change the criteria for a ``worn-out'' tire.
Changing the official wear-out point from 2/32 inch to 2.5/32 (5/64) inch will remove thousands of unsafe tires from the road, according to Harold J. Herzlich, president of Herzlich Consulting Inc. and former director of tire engineering—legal matters and product reliability for Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp.
The 2/32 requirement was codified in 1968 and ``does not take into account some critical wear-out characteristics of radial tires,'' Mr. Herzlich said in his May 15 petition.
At 2/32 inch, most radial tires will have ``localized worn areas'' where the steel belt will be exposed, he said. Upgrading the limit to 2.5/32 will minimize this problem.
NHTSA has not indicated how it will rule on the petition, although it included the issue on the agenda for a Motor Vehicle Safety Research Advisory Committee meeting May 20.
Besides heading his own consulting firm, Mr. Herzlich is technical editor of Rubber & Plastics News, a sister publication of TIRE BUSINESS.
Contract approved at CGT's Ky. plant
MAYFIELD, Ky.—Members of United Steelworkers of America Local 665 at Continental General Tire Inc.'s Mayfield factory ratified a new 40-month labor pact May 13 by a narrow 52-percent margin, a union official said.
The contract includes changes in work rules, worker compensation, performance targets and vacation and health benefits, company officials said.
It also enables Conti General to go to continuous, seven-day operations from five days a week, though union officials don't foresee weekend production until late 1998 or early 1999.
If the union had rejected the May 5 agreement, Conti General would have continued with its plan to pare the plant's total roster to 350 workers by year-end and shift production to its facilities in Mount Vernon, Ill., and Charlotte, N.C.
Since late 1995, Conti General has halved the factory's employment, including cutting nearly 500 jobs in 1996.
But with a new labor agreement, the company expects to hike union employment at the Mayfield plant to 825 by year's end and to 1,200 by January 1999, union officials said.
Titan fined $20,000 in workers death
DES MOINES, Iowa—Iowa's Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Titan Tire Corp. $20,000 April 24 for alleged safety violations linked to a fatal accident at the company's Des Moines plant.
The OSHA investigation stemmed from a March 20 accident in which Titan Tire worker Donald Baysinger, 47, was crushed to death by a tire-building machine.
OSHA cited Titan Tire with four ``serious'' safety violations, alleging inadequate training and safety guards on the equipment, said Iowa OSHA Administrator Mary L. Bryant. Titan plans to appeal OSHA's ruling, a company spokesman said.
Titan officials are puzzled as to why equipment safety features failed to prevent the fatal accident, a company spokesman said previously.
Shea succeeds Cole as RMA president
WASHINGTON—The Rubber Manufacturers Association named Donald B. Shea president
May 19, replacing Thomas E. Cole, a 20-year veteran of the association who has held its presidency since 1989.
Mr. Cole, who had been scheduled to retire in April 1998, but opted for early retirement, said he will stay with the RMA until the end of May to help with the transition.
Mr. Shea had been president of the U.S. Council of Shipping since last year, but the bulk of his considerable association experience has been in the brewing and plastics industries.
Trained as a lawyer, he started in 1978 as vice president and counsel of the U.S. Brewers Association, graduating to its presidency in 1983.
Then in 1988, Mr. Shea was chosen president of the Council for Solid Waste Solutions, a task force formed by 16 leading plastics manufacturers to address the solid waste controversy and show the public that plastics were readily recyclable and that the plastics industry was ready to promote nationwide recycling efforts.
When the American Plastics Council—successor organization to the CSWS—was formed, Mr. Shea was named group vice president. From there, he went to the U.S. Council of Shipping.
Mr. Shea resides in Leesburg, Va., with his wife and two daughters.
Cooper approves stock repurchase
FINDLAY, Ohio—The board of directors of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. have authorized the company to repurchase up to 5 million—about 6.4 percent—of the 78.7 million shares of its common stock outstanding.
Chairman and CEO Patrick W. Rooney said the stock currently is undervalued.