DETROIT -- Tower Automotive Inc. said Thursday that it is making another contract proposal to its unions. The two sides are preparing for a Monday hearing in a New York bankruptcy court to decide on a motion to cancel those contracts.
The latest proposal comes in the wake of a union offer made Monday, Feb. 20. A joint statement late Wednesday, Feb. 22, from the UAW, United Steelworkers and IUE-CWA said their offer would return the bankrupt auto parts supplier to profitability. Tower was last profitable in 2000. UAW officials could not be reached for further comment.
Neither side disclosed specifics of their proposals.
Tower spokesman Joel Weiden said no negotiations were scheduled as of Thursday afternoon.
The supplier moved to void its union contracts and modify retiree benefits on Jan. 4. The unions have voted to authorize a strike at nine Tower plants if the company wins approval to reject the contracts. Weiden said a ruling could come by March 13.
If the unions strike, Weiden said, Tower would "make arrangements" to minimize possible interruptions.
"We obviously take the threat of a strike seriously and hope it doesn't come to that," Weiden said.
Tower's average hourly wage is $13 to $15 an hour. It has about 6,000 workers in the United States, two thirds of which are covered by union agreements.
Weiden said the sides met Monday, but noted, "We did not make as much progress as we would have liked."
Potential parts interruptions would affect Detroit automakers, particularly Ford Motor Co.
Ford is Tower's largest customer, making up 38.1 percent of the supplier's North American business in 2005. Domestic automakers combined make up 73.4 percent of its business.
Ford spokesman Ron Iori wouldn't speculate about Ford's plans in the event of a strike. Tower is the world's largest maker of frames and supplies parts for Ford's trucks and SUVs.
Tower ranks No. 45 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $3.20 billion in 2004.
You may e-mail Greg Migliore at [email protected]