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USWA-Titan strike in Des Moines ends after 40 months

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Members of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 164 in Des Moines, Iowa, have ratified a labor agreement with Titan Tire Corp. that ends its three-plus-year strike at Titan's tire manufacturing plant there.

Steelworkers voted yesterday by a margin of 77% to 23%.

The agreement is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2001, and will run through Dec. 15, 2006, according to union officials.

The USWA says its gains via the agreement include:

* all Local 164 members who want to return to work will do so with full seniority rights;

* an early retirement program;

* wage increases for all returning members of $2.80 an hour over the life of the agreement;

* reductions in mandatory overtime and a guarantee of every other weekend off;

* continuation of members' current health care plan with only modest cost increases;

* a commitment from Titan to operate Des Moines as its flagship factory and a statement to reopen its Natchez, Miss., plant when economically feasible;

* strong successorship rights should Titan ever choose to sell its Des Moines plant.

"The agreement specifies that all willing and eligible Local 164 members will return to work within 60 days, if there is work available," say union officials.

USWA members started striking at Titan's Des Moines plant in May 1998.

The union also reports that the 320 members of its chapter picketing Titan's Natchez facility "have reached a tentative agreement with (the tiremaker) and will soon hold a ratification election."

Titan "mothballed" the Natchez factory last June.

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