Neither side budging in Titan strike

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2000

The strike United Steelworkers of America Local 303L started against Titan Tire of Natchez more than 15 months ago seems to be in a holding pattern, with neither side ready to budge.

&uot;Morry Taylor can settle this and we can go back to work, or he can keep fighting us and go bankrupt,&uot;&160;said Leo &uot;T-Bone&uot; Bradley, president of Local 303L.

&uot;Life and business are going to continue as normal,&uot;&160;said Taylor, chief executive officer of Titan. &uot;I just wish T-Bone the best in his computer classes.&uot; Some union members are taking college classes to learn new trades.

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Titan and union officials have met several times in an attempt to negotiate a contract, but with little success. The last talks were held April 30 in St. Louis.

As of Wednesday, Bradley said he was attempting to contact USWA headquarters to see what the local’s next move in the strike should be. &uot;Until then, there’s not much news going on,&uot;&160;Bradley said.

But the union and Titan are keeping busy with other matters.

About 110 of Local 303L’s almost 300 members go back to class at Copiah-Lincoln Community College this week to learn new trades.

Some have gone to work for other companies, Bradley said. And many plan to attend rallies around the nation and perhaps the world to support unions at other Titan plants, he added.

Meanwhile, Taylor said he has plans to increase production at the Natchez plant by 20 to 30 percent this year, although he would not divulge current production figures.

Taylor also said the plant now has more than 300 workers — a figure Bradley disputes — and will eventually reach about 400 employees.

&uot;Those who wish to sit out there and wait on the union leadership are welcome to do so,&uot;&160;Taylor said. &uot;But we’re getting on with business.&uot;

Actually, Titan’s financial figures declined last year. For the nine months that ending Sept. 30, sales fell 12 percent to $453.6 million. Net loss totaled $5.5 million versus income of $13.5 million. Estimates of the company’s per-share earnings for the fourth quarter of 1999 stand at a loss of 23 cents per share.

&uot;We’ll go back to work,&uot;&160;Bradley said. &uot;But at that rate, it may be for somebody else other than Morry Taylor.&uot;