Titan, union reach tentative agreement

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Thursday, November 15, 2001

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ – Titan Tire and union officials are close to finalizing

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a tentative agreement that, if ratified, would end a more than

three-year strike at Titan’s Natchez plant, a union official said


Titan Chief Executive Officer Morry Taylor signed the agreement

Thursday, Leo &uot;T-Bone&uot; Bradley, president of United

Steelworkers of America Local 303L, confirmed later that day.

Taylor could not be reached for comment.

&uot;There are still a few things we have to work out, but

we have a signed tentative agreement – the beginning of a process,&uot;

Bradley said.

This agreement comes one-and-a-half months after Local 303L

members voted to reject another tentative agreement with the company.

The union local has been on strike from Titan’s Natchez plant

since September 1998.

Bradley noted that the signing of the tentative agreement does

not necessarily mean the contract will be taken to a vote or that

union members will return to work anytime soon.

If it is signed, union officials will still have to tour the

Natchez plant to determine the condition of the facility and its


The tour &uot;probably won’t be Friday, so it will either

be next week or after Thanksgiving,&uot; Bradley said.

If union officials agree the plant is in good condition, they

will then determine whether to present the tentative agreement

to Local 303L members for a vote.

A simple majority of the local’s 300-plus members would need

to vote for the contract for it to pass.

Meetings would be held prior to the vote to explain the proposed

contract to members.

But even if the tentative agreement is ratified, that does

not mean that workers will go back to work at the plant anytime


&uot;That still depends on the economy,&uot; Bradley said.

Titan has placed the Natchez facility in &uot;standby&uot;

mode for several months due to a sluggish economy.

Bradley would not give specifics of the tentative agreement

but said that &uot;it addresses the issues the union wanted addressed.&uot;

On Sept. 26, Steelworkers Local 164 – which had been on strike

from Titan’s Des Moines, Iowa, plant since April 1998 – said members

had ratified an agreement with Titan with 77 percent of the vote.

And Bradley confirmed that the tentative agreement union members

rejected on Oct. 2 was very similar to the contract Des Moines

union members approved. The union has refused to release the margin

by which Natchez members rejected that agreement.

The Des Moines agreement included a return to work with full

seniority and wage increases of $2.80 an hour over five-and-a-half


It included early retirement and pension programs, reductions

in mandatory overtime and every other weekend off and a continuation

of the current health care plan.

It also included strong successorship rights if Titan ever

decides to sell the Des Moines facility and a commitment to operate

the Des Moines plant as Titan’s flagship plant.

The &uot;flagship&uot; clause means that facility’s production

will have to be up to &uot;full speed&uot; before the Natchez

plant is reopened.