Titan Layoffs Contested, Arbitrator to Review - Tire Review Magazine

Titan Layoffs Contested, Arbitrator to Review

(Akron/Tire Review) Were the cuts because of a softening market for ag tires or for other reasons?

An arbitrator apparently will decide whether Titan International violated terms of its contract with union employees at its recently acquired plant in Freeport, Ill., where 71 workers have been laid off in recent days.

In a story by the Freeport Journal-Standard, United Steelworkers Local 745 President Steve Vanderheyden called the layoffs “a violation of contract terms,” saying that under the master contract, union workers are protected except for a downturn in sales back to Goodyear.

“Titan overstated the number of people involved in the Goodyear production,” Vanderheyden told the paper. “The reason for that is there’s a restriction against any other reduction.”

But Titan Charirman and CEO Morry Taylor said the layoffs were due to “a softening farm/implement market.” Taylor told the paper that the layoffs would be upheld by the arbitrator and that union officials should not have been surprised by the cutbacks.

“They knew exactly what was coming down. I’m a shop rat. Unions are politicians. We have to run a business,” Taylor said in the report.

Goodyear purchases mixed rubber stock and finished ATV tires from Titan, which was included as part of the purchase deal. According to Titan, Goodyear has reduced the amount of rubber and tires it was buying from Titan.

Vanderheyden said the contract permits layoffs of those workers producing products sold to Goodyear and only if there was a downturn in production of those products. But the union head said that employees with jobs that cross over between Goodyear-designated production and Titan production are protected.

Vanderheyden also told the newspaper that Titan is not fully following contract requirements to work with the union to minimize layoffs. “They’re not interested in living up to the terms of the agreement they just negotiated,” Vanderheyden said.

No date was set for the arbitrator to review and decide the issue.

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