FINDLAY, OhioCooper Tire & Rubber Co. has reached tentative agreements with the United Steelworkers (USW) union local representing workers at its Clarksdale, Miss., rubber compounding plant that the tire maker said potentially could pave the way for the merger process with India's Apollo Tyres Ltd. to resume.
Details of the tentative agreements are not being disclosed pending review and consent by Apollo, Cooper said in an 8K statement posted with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The tentative labor agreements are also subject to review and ratification by union membership, Cooper said. The Clarksdale plant is represented by USW Local 556L.
The agreements are in response to a complaint filed by the USW on Aug. 1 claiming that Cooper's deal to be acquired by Apollo violated successorship clauses in the company's labor contracts with USW locals at Findlay, Ohio, and Texarkana, Ark.
The parties agreed to binding arbitration over the matter, and the arbitrator ruled in the union's favor Sept. 13. The abitrator ruled that Cooper put the sale of its plants on hold until Apollo and the USW can agree on contracts covering about 2,500 USW members at Locals 752L in Texarkana and 207L in Findlay.
Cooper also said it has entered into a waiver agreement with the USW and the locals that provides that the tentative labor agreements reached amongst Cooper Tire, the unions and USW Local 556L...will, in certain cases, satisfy the arbitrator's ruling so long as the merger closes on or before Nov. 18, 2013, even if such agreements are not yet ratified by union membership at that time, the filing said.
Cooper and Apollo were scheduled to face off in the Delaware Chancery Court starting Nov. 5after Tire Business press time for this issueto settle a lawsuit filed Oct. 4 by Cooper against Apollo seeking to force Apollo to complete the $35 a share merger offer the companies agreed to June 12.
Tire Business Senior Washington Reporter Miles Moore will be in the Delaware courtroom covering the case. Check www.tirebusiness.com for updated reports.