DES MOINES, Iowa—John Peno, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 164 at Titan Tire Corp.'s plant in Des Moines, said union members were celebrating as soon as they heard the news. But he said he also realized it might be premature.
The proposed acquisition of Titan International Inc. by Carlisle Companies Inc. means there will be a new owner of the agricultural tire plant Local 164 has manned for years. It will be the fourth company, including Armstrong and Pirelli, to own the factory in the past 12 years.
Also, it means the local, which has been striking for 15 months, may not deal with Titan President and CEO Maurice Taylor Jr. or his negotiators anymore. That is ``great news'' for the union, Mr. Peno said.``We hope he's out of the picture and look forward to meeting with the people from Carlisle.''
The strike at the Titan Tire plant in Des Moines, which started May 1, 1998, over economic factors and working conditions, has escalated into a fight over permanent replacement workers, failed negotiations, rejected offers and unfair labor practice charges.
The USWA sees the merger of Titan into Carlisle as an opportunity to end the ordeal.``Everyone's a little relieved, but I know there's more to do,'' Mr. Peno said.
Workers at Titan's plant in Natchez, Miss., also have been striking since Sept. 15, 1998.
Mr. Taylor is far from out of the picture. He will become the new chairman of Carlisle Tire & Wheel Co., the unit that will absorb the Titan operations. He said he doesn't think he will be involved in negotiations, however.
John Barsanti, Carlisle vice president and chief financial officer, said he hopes there is a way to come to a constructive and beneficial conclusion to the dispute.
Eli S. Lustgarten, an analyst with Schroder & Co., said Carlisle will want its plants working at optimum levels as soon as possible and will do what it takes to make that happen.