CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Continental Tire North America Inc. has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Steelworkers as the deal to sell its Bryan, Ohio, off-the-road tire plant seems stalled.
Conti said the charge, filed with the National Labor Relations Board, is "based upon the union´s refusal to enter into a labor agreement with Rodos Giants L.L.C." Rodos is the U.S. corporation operated by Dortmund, Germany-based Rosler Group.
"The Steelworkers have both legal and contractual obligations to negotiate a new labor agreement with the potential purchaser of the Bryan plant," said Rick Ledsinger, vice president of human resources for Conti. "The union clearly violated these obligations by refusing to recognize its agreement with Rodos and breaking off negotiations."
A union spokesman said the charges are without merit. "It´s apparent that anybody can file charges, even frivolous ones," he said.
The Conti charge with the NLRB followed a series of conflicting reports from Rosler and union officials. On June 21, Rosler and the USW offered contrasting views of the progress of talks to satisfy a successorship clause in the Conti/union pact that called for a new contract with any buyer before a sale is final.
Rosler had put out a news release saying the firm had reached an agreement with Ron Hoover, a USW contract coordinator, that had terms similar to the current contract between Conti and the Steelworkers. Rosler also said it had agreed to retain all 257 union employees at the factory.
But the USW maintained that the memorandum of understanding reached June 21 was not a tentative agreement, and Rosler was aware that members of USW Local 890L at Bryan would have to ratify any contract before the sale of the plant could close.
In filing its NLRB action, Conti said it signed a letter of intent with Rosler on Jan. 13, and the German firm began talks with the union in February, culminating in the June 16 memorandum.
"The union now denies that the June 16 memorandum of understanding was a binding agreement," Conti said.
The union spokesman rejected that notion. "There´s no agreement at all between the Steelworkers and Rosler," he said.
Conti said it is seeking an order from the NLRB requiring the union to comply with the terms of the memorandum. Conti and Rosler then would resume bargaining to implement the transaction, the tire maker said. Without union ratification of a contract, Rosler cannot complete its intended purchase of the Bryan facility from Conti by July 31.