Feds investigating union’s complaint about Chinese tires

Federal officials are investigating a complaint by unionized Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. workers that Chinese tire makers have unfairly stolen U.S. customers.

The case could take a year to resolve. It could result in the Commerce Department imposing a tariff on Chinese tire imports.

Doing nothing will mean job losses at U.S. tire plants, said Leo Gerard, president of United Steelworkers International, which represents Cooper Tire’s Findlay and Texarkana, Arkansas, factory workers.

“Domestic tire producers have been rapidly losing market share over the last two years,” Gerard said. “Simply put, China is stealing American jobs and the Steelworkers intend to fight for every one of those jobs.”

Chinese companies have charged less than market value for car, light truck and sport utility vehicle tires in the U.S., United Steelworkers alleged. The Chinese companies have charged market value for the same tires in their own country, the union alleged. It also alleged the Chinese government gives its companies export subsidies so they can afford the predatory practice, said Gary Hubbard, public affairs director for United Steelworkers, Washington, D.C.

Cooper Tire’s Findlay and Texarkana, Arkansas, factories make tires for light trucks and sport utility vehicles, said Rod Nelson, president of Local 207L, United Steelworkers. Cooper Tire’s Tupelo, Mississippi, factory makes car tires, he said.

The union’s allegations were filed six weeks ago, and the Commerce Department on Tuesday reported it will investigate.

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