Labor leaders and politicians unite to save Cooper plant

Reported by Dick Berry email
Posted by Kate Oatis email

FINDLAY (WTOL) - The future of the Cooper Tire and Rubber plant in Findlay remains uncertain.

Slow sales are forcing the company to close one of its four plants in the U.S. It could be the one in Findlay, which is home to company headquarters and employs 1,100 workers.

But, labor leaders and politicians are working to make sure that doesn't happen. In fact, Cooper is asking each community to produce an incentive package by Dec. 1.

The tone among the players is serious.

"It's like having human beings compete against one another. And I think that adds another degree of somberness to what is a real tragedy," said Gerald McEntee, AFSCME International president.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Joe Rugola is walking across Ohio campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. He's seen job losses and the toll they take on people after a plant closes.

"Families have often been ruined because of the strain placed on them economically and emotionally when they lose the good-paying jobs that they were depending on to take them through to retirement," Rugola explained.

At the University of Findlay, Gov. Ted Strickland and Sen. Sherrod Brown campaigned for Obama. Strickland says the State will offer an incentive package to Cooper.

"We have a good workforce. Our state values the company, and we will do everything we can to make sure Cooper Tire remains here," Strickland said.

Brown says trade and tax policies need to be changed to stop plant closings.

"We continue passing trade agreements that put American manufacturing at a disadvantage, especially a competitive company like Cooper. And tax policies reward companies that go overseas," Brown said.

Cooper will conduct a 90-day study to determine which plant folds. A Cooper spokeswoman says it will be a tough decision and that the company will explore all options.

Meanwhile, a task force made up of company, government and civic leaders met Monday to discuss the potential pullout. Only the company will talk about discussions; everybody else is being asked to keep quiet.