The United Steelworkers (USW) on December 18 condemned Titan Tire's lockout of approximately 1,000 members at the company's Bryan, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; and Freeport, Ill., facilities. The company's actions came despite the union informing the company that it would hold information meetings and a vote on the company's proposal for contracts covering the three facilities within the next week.
Jim Robinson, chairman of the USW's Negotiating Committee and Director of USW District 7, criticized the action saying, "Titan's lock out of 1,000 of our members at all three of its tire-making facilities is completely unnecessary and entirely premature."
The USW and Titan began negotiations in September and were working towards a contract that contained changes the company stated it needed to regain profitability at the three USW-represented plants. Although the contract technically expired on November 19, the USW and company agreed to extend negotiations until December 17 to continue the progress in negotiations. However, the company informed the union mid-week that it would not agree to a further extension and would lock out workers, completely ceasing its tire production, unless an agreement was reached.
Robinson explained that, "The company's proposal falls far short of what we would like to see and we would much rather have continued to negotiate and reach a mutually-acceptable deal. However, due to the company's intransigence and its declaration that it would lock out our members, we made it clear to the company that we would continue to work, take their contract proposal back to our members, explain it and have the members vote. Despite our commitment, Titan chose to shut its doors and lock our members out the week before Christmas."
The union will follow-through on its commitment and will hold explanation meetings at each of the facilities over the course of the next few days culminating in the membership voting on the contracts on Thursday, December 23.
The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada employed in the metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector industries.