Cooper workers approve contract
FINDLAY, Ohio—Union workers at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Findlay tire plant ratified a new three-year deal with the company Nov. 7 that could pave the way for a move to continuous operations at the plant.
The pact includes wage and pension increases that match the pattern set in the United Steelworkers of America's negotiations with Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. this fall: a $50 per month per year of service pension multiplier, and general wage increases totaling 65 cents per hour over the life of the contract.
The main point of contention was the company's desire to include language giving it the right to shift to continuous operations at the plant, where Cooper makes radial passenger and light truck tires.
The two sides agreed that the firm will have that right, but only with a 60-day notification, said Jim Geers, Cooper corporate vice president of human resources.
"There are no immediate plans to do so," Mr. Geers said. "But that could change tomorrow."
Frank Cline, president of USWA Local 207, said a move to 12-hour shifts likely will be necessary eventually for Cooper to stay competitive.
"We're the last tire plant in the U.S. not on a continuous operation schedule," he said. "...It's unpalatable now, yet it's inevitable."
The Findlay facility continues to be one of the last incentive-driven plants in the tire industry. Union members, whose wages average between $25 and $26 per hour, earn portions of their pay by meeting per-unit production goals, Mr. Cline said.
Iowa Mold sold for $32.2 million
GARNER, Iowa—Iowa Mold Tooling Co., a manufacturer of tire service trucks and material handling equipment, has been sold.
American Capital Strategies Ltd. purchased the company for $32.2 million from Intermet Corp., a Troy, Mich.-based supplier of powertrain, chassis and other original equipment automotive parts.
American Capital Strategies is an equity partner specializing in management and employee buyouts. Other equity capital was provided by members of IMT's senior management team, the company said.
IMT President Richard Long said American Capital's ownership will provide the 39-year-old Garner-based equipment maker with "the platform we have needed to accelerate our growth, both organically and through acquisitions."
Although American Capital will have majority control of IMT, the company's present management team has made a substantial investment in its future and will continue to lead it, Mr. Long said.
Goodyear midyear contract gets OK
AKRON—More than 20,000 union workers at Goodyear and subsidiary plants will benefit from the pattern set by the contract agreement with Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., with similar economic adjustments coming over the next three years.
Negotiators for the United Steelworkers of America union and Goodyear reached a tentative agreement on midterm contract issues Oct. 25 in Cincinnati. The two sides were at the midway point of a six-year master pact that runs through April 19, 2003.
Members of 14 USWA locals—staffing Goodyear, Kelly-Springfield and Dunlop tire and rubber plants—will receive a pension increase to $50 per month per year of service, general wage raises of 65 cents and an early retirement supplement boost to $340 per month.
Those figures mirror what Bridgestone/Firestone's unionized workers attained in their negotiations.
Thirteen of the 14 locals approved the new contract provisions, which a USWA spokesman said in general had passed "by wide margins."
The USWA has a few more tire industry contracts to deal with this year, including an expired contract with Michelin North America Inc.'s three Uniroyal Goodrich plants.