Tyrel Linkhorn
Toledo Blade

FINDLAY: A tentative contract agreement is in place that could end the three-month lockout at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.’s Findlay tire plant, union officials said.

Patrick Gallagher, a union subdirector for the United Steelworkers, said the two sides reached the tentative agreement Thursday after nearly three days of talks.

Details, including the length of the contract, were not released.

Cooper’s 1,050 factory workers have been locked out since Nov. 28.

Cooper officials did not respond to messages.

The proposal will be presented to the union membership today, with a full-membership vote scheduled for Monday.

“We’ve always been trying to get a fair agreement,” Gallagher said. “We think we’ve come to a point where we need the membership to make a decision and we’re going to present them this agreement and see what they have to say to us.”

Rod Nelson, president of Local 207L, could not be reached for comment.

Union members were cautiously optimistic as they await details, said Terry Glick, a 30-year Cooper employee and one of the picket captains.

A previous tentative contract was defeated by a 2-1 ratio on Nov. 27. Employees found themselves locked out when they showed up for work the next day. Cooper continued its manufacturing operations with nonunion workers.

In the weeks since then, it appeared no progress was made in talks. Union officials rejected several company offers to extend the previous contract. The company accused union leaders of not informing their workers of the extension offers. Negotiations slowed and ultimately stopped for some time.

In a letter posted to its website, USW Local 207L said the company made a new five-year contract offer a week ago, but its terms were not satisfactory.

The union said Tuesday’s meeting was the first official negotiation session in 10 weeks. That session came on the heels of two recent agreements between Cooper management and other unions.

With little fanfare, Cooper announced new deals with the USW-represented workers at its Clarksdale, Miss., plant and with its Teamsters-represented fleet truck drivers in Findlay.

Last month, Cooper reached an agreement with its workers in Texarkana, Ark.

Cooper, based in Findlay, is the fourth-largest tire manufacturer in North America and one of the Findlay area’s largest employers.