TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. said Wednesday it will close its plant in Albany, Ga., as the company faces higher costs and shrinking demand.
Workers were told in October that the company had to make a dramatic cut. Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper said it will keep open plants in Findlay; Texarkana, Ark.; and Tupelo, Miss.
Cooper studied each of its plants while the factories and their communities worked to provide Cooper with reasons to keep operating.
In Findlay, where about 1,100 work in the factory, union workers voted to accept a pay cut. In Texarkana, the union voted to scuttle its current contract in favor of one in which workers would freeze salaries and make other concessions.
The company says it is the only tire company that still has most of its manufacturing in the United States and that competition from imports combined with less demand has cut into profits.
Cooper told workers Wednesday that the three remaining plants would move to around-the-clock production, seven days a week and that staff may be added. The company said it would take 12 months to close the Albany factory, which employs 1,300.
Union workers at Texarkana on Saturday voted 84 percent to 16 percent to adopt the new contract. The same workers went on strike for a month in 2005 over health benefits, returning to work after a narrow majority accepted the company proposal.
About a year later, Cooper Tire converted the factory to a "flex" plant, which trimmed the worker count from 1,900 and made the plant more adaptable to increases and decreases in production.
Steelworkers Local 752L President David Boone, the Texarkana leader, told workers at a Friday meeting that Cooper Tire could restore the plant to continuous production status if the factory is kept open.
BizBuzz blog from Tupelo, Miss.