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Cooper to Cut Production at Texarkana Tire Plant

(Akron/Tire Review – Texarkana Gazette) Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. plans to convert its full-time tire plant in Texarkana, Ark., to “flex plant” status, meaning production will shift to meet changing tire demands.

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Cooper said it would reduce production at the plant by 30% in 2007 and then by an additional 15% percent in 2008. During the second quarter of 2007, the company will go to a five-day, three-crew schedule. As part of this plan, 400 to 500 jobs could be eliminated in May.

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The “flex plant” will conduct “short runs” to meet customer demand. This approach, according to Cooper, is intended to increase the profitability of the tiremaker’s North American tire division.

“While we regret the impact on the individuals and families to be affected by these changes, it will help make Cooper a stronger company, which is good for many people here in Texarkana and around the country,” John Bodart, plant manager, said in a statement issued Friday.

“This type of change is difficult, but necessary to remain competitive and viable in the future. We will make every effort to support all our employees during this challenging time,” the statement read.

Workers were notified of the tiremaker’s plans late last week via an official company statement. The Texarkana plant employs about 1,900 workers, 1,600 of whom are members of United Steelworkers Local 752L.

Cooper’s plants in Albany, Ga., Tupelo, Miss., and Findlay, Ohio, will maintain full capacity, according to the company.

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