USWA will try to block Cooper-Standard sale via lawsuit

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The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) have announced they will file a lawsuit against Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. to prevent the sale of Cooper´s Cooper-Standard Automotive division to the Cypress Group and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.

"Under current labor agreements, it (was) agreed that Cooper would sell USWA-represented plants only to new owners who had reached new labor agreements with the union prior to the sale," say USWA officials.

Steelworkers are accusing Cooper of backtracking "on the change of ownership provisions of the agreements."

Cooper has responded by saying that the Cooper-Standard sale has been structured "in a manner that would essentially leave the automotive business unit intact, with employees remaining employed, the continuation of all existing union relationships and all existing Cooper-Standard labor contracts remaining in effect."

Cooper officials believe the USWA´s position "is contrary to the labor contracts and violated federal law.

"This is an issue that has been under discussion between Cooper Tire and the Steelworkers since the announced intention to explore the sale of the automotive unit. The company believes it has protected the employees and all Cooper-Standard unions because the sale agreement maintains existing union relationships and existing contractual arrangements.

"We believe any labor negotiations betwee the union and the buyer prior to the sale would be in violation of federal law."

Cooper says it is prepared to proceed with the sale, which was announced on Sept. 17. Cooper-Standard has 47 facilities in total.

USWA officials maintain the Cooper "has refused to arbitrate the dispute, forcing the union to sue in federal court to enforce its rights to arbitration prior to a sale."

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