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;
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.