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USW calls out Cooper Tire’s corporate greed

In November, Cooper Tire locked out 1,051 members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 207L at its profitable Findlay, Ohio, plant despite the union’s good-faith offer to keep working while negotiations toward a new labor contract proceeded.

On Saturday, Puget Sound-area USW members and their supporters (some are pictured at right) leafleted outside the Sears at Tacoma Mall to support their locked-out Brothers and Sisters at Cooper Tire. It was part of a National Day of Action to educate tire customers at more than 125 stores across the country about the treatment of the Cooper Tire workers.

The USW in Findlay granted concessions when the company was having hard times and helped to turn the company around. The workers’ reward? The company sought additional concessions in the latest round of bargaining. After the company’s concessionary final offer was rejected by the membership in Findlay, the workers were locked out Nov. 18 after the CEO just gave himself a 211% wage increase.

The USW has filed NLRB charges alleging the company committed unfair labor practices in bargaining and imposing the lockout. In the meantime, they are taking the workers’ case to Cooper Tire’s customers.

The leaflet distributed on Saturday describes “Corporate Greed at Cooper Tire” (feel free to download and share it with anyone you know who’s considering buying tires):

When Cooper Tire hit hard times, USW Local 207L members in Findlay, Ohio sacrificed: $31.2 million of concessions in the 2008 contract negotiations.

Taxpayers in the City of Findlay and the State of Ohio also stepped up with grants and abatements: The state alone has provided Cooper Tire with $2.5 million in subsidies since 2009.

Since January 1, 2009, however, Cooper Tire has made $448 million in operating profits and posted an income (before taxes) of $360 million.

Executives have rewarded themselves handsomely: Its top five executives in 2010 took home more than $9.5 million and bought themselves a shiny, new corporate jet. In addition, two wage increases and double bonuses were given to management personnel.

And what about the workers, the men and women, who build the tires? The members of USW 207L wanted to continue working while negotiating a fair contract. Instead the company locked them out and is now replacing its highly-skilled workforce with out-of-state workers with who-knows-what kind of expertise.

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The USW represents about 850,000 working men and women in the United States and Canada in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glass making to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber and other manufacturing environments to the public sector, service and health care industries.

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