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USWA strikes against Titan may be over

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Titan International Inc. and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) have reached tentative agreements in a pair of labor disputes.

Titan Tire Corp. and USWA Local 164 in Des Moines, Iowa, announced they had reached a tentative agreement on all outstanding issues. If ratified by the 670-member local -- the process should take about two weeks, say USWA negotiators -- the longest-running labor dispute in the history of the United States rubber industry will be over.

Local 164 began its strike on May 1, 1998. President John Peno says the tentative agreement "meets our needs."

"As in any negotiated settlement, we did not get everything that we wanted, but we can endorse the (agreement) in good conscience. We will now put it to our membership for a ratification vote."

Titan Tire Corp. of Natchez (Miss.) and USWA Local 303L also announced they had negotiated a tentative agreement. The Natchez local began its strike Sept. 14, 1998.

"Work stoppages are never beneficial for either side of a labor dispute," says Maurice "Morry" Taylor, Titan CEO and president. "We are encouraged that the membership will be given a chance to vote, and we are hopeful that it will be approved. Putting this issue behind us will allow Titan to focus available resources on company growth."

No details of the agreements will be issued until the respective union memberships complete their voting.

Titan's Des Moines tire facility has the capacity to produce 13,100 tires a day, according to Modern Tire Dealer estimates. Its Natchez plant had the capability of producing 8,400 tires a day until being shut down in June. Titan also owns a tire manufacturing plant in Brownsville, Texas.

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