DETROIT - Tower Automotive Inc. said Wednesday that it has reached new labor agreements with its unions after several months of intense negotiations.
Tower says the agreements will play a major role in the company's reorganization - if approved by workers and a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge. The pacts covers 2,100 hourly workers.
Details of the agreements were not immediately available.
Tower, of Novi, Mich., makes vehicle frames and other structural components for BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Honda, Hyundai/Kia, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. Tower filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York in February 2005.
"These agreements are a major step toward assuring Tower's future as a profitable, competitive automotive supplier," CEO Kathleen Ligocki said in a statement. "Assuming these agreements are ratified by the union memberships and approved by the Bankruptcy Court, we will be one major step closer to the completion of our reorganization plan and our emergence from Chapter 11 later this year."
Bill Pumphrey, Tower's president of North American operations, said in the statement that the agreements with the UAW and the United Steelworkers would mean that "our labor costs going forward are clearly defined."
Union officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
But in April, UAW Vice President Bob King said the union was willing to help Tower in its restructuring.
"We're willing to share in the pain, but also share in some of the gain when things improve," King told reporters.
Tower in January sought court approval to void its union contracts. The company said it needed concessions to restructure and get out of Bankruptcy Court. Those include wage concessions of up to 23 percent.
Union workers in January voted to strike at nine Tower plants in the Midwest if the court allows the company to void the contracts. The supplier's hourly unionized workers make $13 to $15 an hour.
Tower has about 6,000 U.S. workers, two-thirds of whom are covered by union agreements. It earlier reached an agreement with its unions at operations in Milwaukee.
It was unclear late Wednesday which specific Tower operations were included in the tentative agreement.
Tower ranks No. 46 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global OEM suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $3.29 billion in 2005.
You may e-mail Philip Nussel at [email protected]