TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — Union members at Cooper Tire and Rubber Co.'s Texarkana plant will see their pay go up for their first time since 2008, when members agreed to millions in concessions to save the plant from closure.
Members of United Steelworkers Local 752L approved a four-year contract 1,006-141 on Thursday. The Texarkana Gazette reported (http://is.gd/VgFXCq ) the four-year contract includes a one-time $1,200 increase for the first two years and a $1,000 increase for the last two years for workers hired before 2009.
Workers hired after 2009 will get an increase of $1,200 the first year and a 20-cent-per-hour raise the next three years.
Union member Michael Johnson, who's worked at Cooper Tire for 31 years, said he thought the new contract was as good as the union could get given the current economic conditions.
"You have to have faith in your negotiating committee," he said. "The only thing that I wish was different was a little more pay and not having to pay so much out of our pocket for our insurance."
Cooper Tire praised the union in a statement for its professionalism in negotiations.
"The parties are equally consistent in their optimism for the future of the Texarkana facility and the ability of the plant employees to be even more productive under the terms of the new contract," the company said in a statement.
Union president David Boone said both sides also agreed to more tire molds at the Texarkana plant — which means more workers on the payroll.
"They're going to invest in this plant," Boone said. "I think the Texarkana plant will be the plant to reckon with in the entire Cooper Tire corporation," he said.
When the sides last negotiated in 2008, the union agreed to a salary freeze and other concessions to try to avert the plant's closure. Cooper Tire eventually closed its Albany, Ga., plant and kept open factories in Texarkana; Findlay, Ohio; and Tupelo, Miss.
Last November, Cooper Tire ordered the lockout of more than 1,000 union members in Findlay because they rejected a tentative agreement.