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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Union accepts Cooper Tire pact in Findlay

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

FINDLAY - Members of United Steelworkers Local 207L passed by a more than two-to-one ratio a new contract at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. that includes wage cuts and a temporary freeze on pension accruals.

Unionized employees at the plant ratified the three-year pact Monday by a vote of 648 to 264. It replaces an agreement that expired Oct. 31 and was reached as the corporation decides which of four North American plants to close.

Neither side would disclose details of the contract.

Cooper Tire, based in Findlay, is the nation's second-largest tire maker. Jack Hamilton, manager of the firm's Findlay factory, had predicted that the new pact would "position the plant in a competitive manner." The factory has about 1,100 employees.

The contract will cost workers $30 million over its three-year duration, president of the union local. "Nobody thought it was a good contract. We voted to save our jobs."

Government officials in the four states where Cooper makes car and light-truck tires have put together incentive packages that will save the company millions of dollars no matter which plant is shuttered.

Cooper's other factories are in Albany, Ga. (1,300 employees); Tupelo, Miss. (1,300); and Texarkana, Ark. (1,400). The company expects to decide by Jan. 19 which will close.



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