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Union approves Freeport contract, Titan can proceed with acquisition of Goodyear's farm tire unit

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The United Steelworkers Local 745 in Freeport, Ill., has given Titan International Inc. the green light to proceed with its acquisition of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s farm tire division. The transaction includes Goodyear's farm tire manufacturing plant in Freeport.

Steelworkers voted yesterday to approve a five-year contract for the Freeport facility by a margin of 78.1% to 21.9%.

"The anticipated sale date will be Jan. 1, 2006, which will begin the terms of the new contracts for each location," say union officials.

A provision in Goodyear's current contract with the Steelworkers required Titan to negotiate a new contract with the union before it could acquire the Freeport plant.

In early 2005, Titan announced its intention to buy Goodyear's farm tire division for $100 million.

Titan will gain control of the Goodyear and Kelly farm tire brands and plans to position the Goodyear label as its top line. Its flagship Titan brand will be positioned in the second tier.

Titan and union representatives had been meeting for months to forge a new contract. The Steelworkers' home office in Pittsburgh, Pa., gave the sale its stamp of approval months ago.

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