Protect unions to protect local jobs

Evan Fry and Evan Fry

It is about time you support your local unions and a global union force.

After weeks of waiting, the firefighters, police officers and Kroger workers have finally come to support the United Steelworkers at Cooper Tire and Rubber Company. School bus drivers go past the plant and honk. Firefighters go past several times a day with sirens screaming in support. The local Kroger union and other small local businesses are donating food to the union hall.

The current company workers are locked out due to bad contract negotiations. The old contract that expired in late October was good for three years. What the CEO and president want to do is cut a majority of workers’ pay by 10 to 50 percent and raise their health care costs weekly.

The workers rejected that contract and are now locked out and picketing.

It is worth mentioning that during the previous contract negotiation three years ago, the city of Findlay gave Cooper Tire a break on its water and sewer utility costs to keep the plant in Findlay.

They gave Cooper the break because the city was told Cooper was going to suffer a loss and lose money.

In all actuality, Cooper had a better quarter and increased profits, and gave the CEO a $4 million raise during this time of “downturn.”

This is one instance of workers needing protection. The only reason Cooper has not fired all 1,050 workers currently picketing is because the union is protecting them.

What the union cannot do is stop Cooper from hiring “strikebreakers,” which Cooper has done, and those “strikebreakers” have crossed the picket line.

The 300-plus strikebreakers are staying in area hotels and here in the city, with all expenses paid by Cooper.

At this point it would be cheaper for Cooper to hire all the normal workers back.

However, the CEO and president believe that it is worth the extra expense to kill the union.

It is also worth mentioning that the other Cooper plant in Texarkana, Ark., has approved their contract. They were supposed to strike along with the Findlay workers.

The Arkansas plant did not strike, and the Findlay plant has already started to move equipment out and place it overseas, in Mexico and in Arkansas.

University faculty members are unionized. Currently they are negotiating their first contract and the administration is not making it easy.

Our rejection of “Issue 2,” a large-scale labor emergency, has shown that we think unions are important. But the small labor issues such as Cooper and the University faculty need to be noticed as well.

We can’t miss the small struggles that become big emergencies.

This is just a precursor of what is to come – maybe for all of us. Cooper workers need some more support.

It has been more than two months of picketing now and morale is diminishing.

The faculty here at the University could use support as well. This seems like a small issue but it has great implications.

We are talking not just about the fate of nearly 2,000 people between the University and Cooper, but we are talking about the protection of the future of our livelihoods as workers against increasing attacks by so-called job creators. This is a message to my fellow students.

The results of these struggles will be the future we inherit. We like to see things that say “Made in America” because we know that means built with pride and built to last. When we see “Made in China,” we think junk.

This is because the standard of living in China is made artificially low by an authoritarian government.

This only shows we need global and inclusive unions. With such unions, jobs would no longer be exported for cheaper wages overseas because workers could not be pitted against each other.

Unions protect living standards and we must learn that they can only do that if they are not self-centered, elitist, nationalist or only focused on emergencies.

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