TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) - The sale of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in Texarkana Apollo Tyres is now on hold, after local union workers asked for a contract re-negotation.
The estimated $2.2 billion deal was first announced in June.
A federal arbitrator has now ordered the sale of the Cooper Tires' plants in Findley, Ohio and Texarkana, Arkansas on hold until Cooper, Apollo and the union can reach bargaining agreements.
About 1,400 union workers are employed at the Texarkana plant. USW Local 752 president David Boone says they reached an agreement in 2008 with Cooper Tire that included $30 million-worth of concessions in order to keep the plant open. That contract is set to end in 2016.
Boone says the request for a new contract, which includes a request for a contract extension to the year 2020, is for protection of the 2,500 employees at the two plants. "And that will help our guys, and we are also asking for raises in the contract and we are asking for a lot that has been taken from us. We are asking for some of that back."
In a statement released by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs Anne Roman said, "Cooper will continue to assess its options. At the same time, Cooper and Apollo are continuing discussions with the USW with an aim of reaching an amicable resolution quickly to minimize any impact on our original transaction closing schedule. Both Cooper and Apollo remain firmly committed to the strategic rationale for the pending merger – which will create a leader in the tire industry with a strong presence in the world's largest tire markets and in the fastest growing geographies – and are optimistic that a mutually beneficial resolution with the USW can be reached."
The two sides are expected to go to the bargaining table within the next 2 weeks.