Cooper concerns U.S., state officials

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Cooper concerns U.S., state officials

Findlay Courier – In separate interviews, Chris Oaks spoke this week with elected officials about the labor dispute at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., including U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio; U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and state Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay.

Q: Sen. Brown, you met with the locked-out members of the United Steelworkers union earlier this week. What sense did you get as to their mood at this point?

Brown: They want to get back to work. One thing that struck me when I was in Findlay on Monday was the number of people honking and expressing their support as they drove by.

These were just average folks, not union members I assume, not family necessarily, just people who recognize the contributions these workers have made to the company and the community through the years.

I know the workers are grateful for that support and for the assistance many in the community provided their families at Christmas, and I know they want to get an agreement and get back on the job.

Q: You mentioned community support, and there is a growing sense among many people locally that an increasing presence of outside influences, such as yourself and union representatives coming in from outside the community, have their own agendas and are not really helping the situation. How would you respond to that?

Brown: I do believe that this dispute should be resolved at the local level. I’m not so much taking sides as simply asking if there is anything I can do to facilitate further negotiations.

I said that to the union, to individual workers and to (CEO) Roy Armes, as well. I like Mr. Armes. He seems like a decent guy. Without going into specifics as to the nature of our conversation, I believe he is well-intentioned and wants to find a way to keep the union workforce in Findlay with decent wages.

Let me be clear that I’m not putting myself into the negotiations. I simply hope that the parties involved can reach an amicable agreement.

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