Union vote holds potential to begin repairing damage

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 7, 2001

The United Steelworkers of America are considering a tentative agreement with Titan Tire that would – if approved – end a more than three-year strike.

Could it be true?

Don’t get too excited. Even if the agreement is ratified on Sunday by a majority of the Local 303L members, the plant may not immediately re-open and begin manufacturing tires again.

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However, by approving the contract, union members can end a long, and sometimes bitter, labor strike.

It’s pretty obvious that the union’s international leaders are pushing for fast approval of this contract. And that’s probably telling of the whole ordeal.

The Natchez plant was never the focus of the Steelworkers’ national concern. Natchez was simply a way to hurt Titan and solidify the union’s hold over the company.

And, regardless of our feelings about the original purpose of the Natchez strike, we’re glad it may be nearly over.

Union members face an important decision on Sunday and one they should weigh carefully for themselves as well as the community.

While it would be nice for the community to finally have the lingering strike resolved, we obviously cannot speak for the concerns of union members.

We do, however, know the ongoing strike has hurt economic development in our area, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Sunday’s vote could be a small step toward repairing three years of damage that a labor strike brings to the efforts of recruiting potential new businesses to our area.

The tentative labor agreement won’t open the plant, but the plant won’t open without it.

It is a small step, but one we hope turns out positive for the union members and the community.