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Titan May Chop Production at Ex-Goodyear Plant

It appears the honeymoon between the United Steelworkers and Titan International Chairman and CEO Morry Taylor is over.

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News reports say that Taylor is threatening to move tire production out of Titan’s plant in Freeport, Ill., unless the USW goes along with his plans to make the former Goodyear plant operate profitably.

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"That’s the way it is," Taylor told the Freeport Journal-Standard. “We’re going to run a profitable plant or we’re going to shave it down until it does make money. I told everyone that when we first came here."

Apparently, Titan is seeking staffing and wage reductions, but specifics of Titan’s plan for the plant were not revealed. In a memo obtained by the Freeport newspaper, Taylor said that without concessions from the USW, employment could be cut to the bare minimum allowed under Titan’s current contract with the Steelworkers.

Steve Vanderheyden, USW Local 745 president, told the newspaper that the local has had no discussions with Titan regarding any reductions. "We’ll enforce the contract he’s agreed to. If the company violates the collective bargaining agreement we will seek to enforce it through the methods that the contract provides."

Under the five-year contract, which Titan and the USW quickly reached as Titan acquired the plant and Goodyear’s agricultural tire operations in 2005, the plant cannot be closed until November 2010.

Vanderheyden, according to the Journal-Standard, told union members that Freeport plant production is down some 40% from when it was operated by Goodyear, primarily due to Titan’s approach to reduce staffing and then reduce production accordingly. (Tire Review/Akron)

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