AKRON-The longest tire industry strike is ending-finally.
Members of United Steelworkers Local 164-on strike for 40-plus months at Titan International Inc.'s Des Moines, Iowa, farm tire plant-ratified a five-year contract Sept. 26. The agreement, approved by a 363-105 vote, will be effective retroactive to Aug. 1 and run through Dec. 15, 2006.
Titan's other unionized work force, composed of members of USWA Local 303 in Natchez, Miss., voted down a contract similar in length and content to the Des Moines agreement Oct. 2.
Maurice Taylor Jr., Titan president and CEO, said he expects positions will be filled in the next 30-60 days. Letters were sent out to workers Oct. 1, giving them 15 days to choose to come back to work or take an early retirement package offered as part of the contract. Local 164 President John Peno said the new deal with Titan is a good one economically, with gains in several areas, but the union's perseverance through the long strike was another important part of the settlement.