Texarkana company adjusts workplace protocol following increased COVID-19 cases in state

Cooper Tire building
Cooper Tire building
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 3:38 PM CDT
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TEXARKANA, Ark. (KSLA) - The rise in positive COVID-19 cases has a Texarkana company making adjustments to their coronavirus protocol.

Kerry Halter is president of United Steel Workers Union 752 at Cooper Tire and Rubber Company in Texarkana. Halter said employees are concerned about the company expanding it’s COVID protocol by requiring workers to wear a face covering in areas where social distancing is not possible.

“We are averaging 60 people a day that fit the positive and quarantine cases, which is a lot of people out of your workforce,” said Halter.

There are around 1,500 union workers at this plant, making it the largest non-government employer in Texarkana, Ark. Halter said this move by the company is an imposition for employees since temperatures inside the plant can reach 120 degrees.

“We understand the bigger picture. The bigger picture is to make sure the guys and ladies are safe, they are healthy they come to work that way and they go home that way. A sick work force doesn’t do us any good,” said Halter.

Leaders with Cooper Tire and Rubber Company corporate office out of Findlay, Ohio provided KSLA this written statement:

“Aligned with recently updated guidelines from the CDC, and in response to a rise in local cases of COVID-19 in the community at large, our Texarkana plant has updated our protocol regarding face coverings. Effective today, face coverings will be required for all employees (vaccinated and unvaccinated) working in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained. Cooper Tire encourages associates to be vaccinated, and makes vaccines available at the worksite at no cost to employees.”

“We are going to continue to work under the conditions for the time being and hopefully there is a light at the end of the tunnel that we can back off the restrictions just a little bit,” said Halter.

Halter said the Texarkana plant will host a vaccination clinic on site Friday, July 30 between 6 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. for Cooper employees.

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