The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 47      December 26, 2011

Locked-out tire workers
in Ohio build support rally
(lead article)
FINDLAY, Ohio—Members of United Steelworkers Local 207L here remain solid in their fight against Cooper Tire and Rubber Company. The 1,050 workers were locked out after voting down the bosses’ “last and final” contract proposal Nov. 27 by a 2-1 margin.

The union local has called a “Rally to Support Local Workers” on Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. The leaflet invites others to “bring family, friends and neighbors to show support for local jobs and learn more about Cooper Tire’s lockout from members of United Steelworkers Local 207L.”

The company is using replacement workers and salaried personnel to keep up production. “Cooper Tire’s proposal is a slap in the face,” Luby Lee told the Militant on the picket line.

Pay for most jobs in the plant is based partially on piece work. “They expected us to sign a contract where we don’t know how much we’ll make and what will be our conditions until 14 months from now,” said Lee, who has worked in the plant for 32 years. “Would you give the company a blank check like that? We said hell no. Put the rates on the negotiating table so we can see now. It’s just a way of increasing the rates and making us work harder for less pay.”

The company’s offer includes a proposal for five wage tiers. Many workers noted that in the last three-year contract, in 2008, workers gave concessions totaling more than $30 million, about $10,000 a year for the average worker.

“The work is very repetitive, hard labor with heavy lifting,” Jim Black, a tire builder who has worked at the plant for more than 23 years, told the Militant. “I’ve had two neck surgeries and two shoulder surgeries. The doctor recommended that I take permanent disability, but the company would fight it. It’s the piece rate. That’s why people get hurt.”

USW Local 207L recently took out a full-page ad in the Findlay Courier titled, “How About Some Simple Facts About the Current Situation at Cooper Tire?” The ad said the company locked the workers out “after we rejected its last proposal, even though we never took a strike vote and offered to continue to work and to continue negotiations.”

“Workers are getting lots of support from the community,” said Laurie Miller, who has worked at Cooper Tire for 19 years. She said the union hall was lined with contributions of food and other necessities. While she was being interviewed, two representatives of United Auto Workers Local 1033 at Triumph Thermal in nearby Forest came by with $583 from a plant collection.

Messages of support and donations can be sent to USW Local 207L, 1130 Summit St. Findlay, Ohio 45840. Phone: (419) 422-4224. Contributions for Christmas presents should be earmarked “Christmas Fund.”

Candace Wagner and David Rosenfeld contributed to this article.
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‘Keep covering our struggles’  
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