QUINCY, Ill. (Dec. 20, 2010) — Titan Tire Corp. has locked out union members at its three tire plants in the U.S. after it couldn't reach a contract covering the facilities with the United Steelworkers (USW).
The contract between the two sides had expired Nov 19 but was extended until Dec. 17. When an agreement wasn't reached by that date, the facilities were shut effective 11 p.m., according to a USW statement.
The action affects about 1,000 USW members at farm and off-the-road tire plants in Bryan, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; and Freeport, Ill. The USW said the shutdown occurred despite the union´s informing the company that it would hold informational meetings and a vote within the next week on Titan's proposal for contracts covering the three factories.
Titan didn't issue a statement on the lockout, according to a company spokesman. Maurice Taylor Jr., Titan chairman and CEO, however, was quoted in local papers saying that there had been “great negotiations,” but that it was time for union members to make a decision.
Some local papers showed photos of picketers outside Titan facilities, and the USW website was encouraging members to sign up for picketing duty.
The USW said in its statement that contract talks had begun in September and were working toward changes Titan said it needed to regain profitability at the three USW-represented plants. As negotiations continued toward the Dec. 17 extension, the company informed the union it wouldn't agree to another extension and it would cease tire production if a new contract wasn't reached.
“The company's proposal falls far short of what we would like to see and we would much rather have continued to negotiate and reach a mutually acceptable deal,” said Jim Robinson, USW director of District 7 and chairman of the negotiating committee.
He added that the committee will follow through on its commitment to hold informational meetings at each site, with a vote on the contract proposals to come Dec. 23.