A bit of understanding could go a long way toward solving a dispute among three parties fighting over an off-the-road tire plant sale.
Continental Tire North America Inc. wants to sell its Bryan, Ohio, factory, and Rodos Giants L.L.C. wants to buy it. And logic says the union members at the plant would rather work for Rodos than a company that doesn´t want them or the products they make.
No mutually beneficial agreement here, though. The United Steelworkers union has held up the deal, Conti filed an unfair labor practice charge against the USW with the National Labor Relations Board, and the Steelworkers countered with a grievance of its own against the company.
It all stems from a document that more aptly could be called "a memorandum of misunderstanding."
The USW has a successor clause in its contract with Conti that covers the Bryan plant. After discussions, Rodos officials got a memorandum of understanding from a USW negotiator in June, assumed it was a tentative agreement and prepared to move ahead with the sale. Rodos´ German parent, Rosler Group, even put out a news release stating the union and company had a deal, the terms were similar to the Conti-USW contract and all 257 union workers at the plant would keep their jobs.
Not so fast, the USW responded-there´s no deal until the Bryan workers ratify it.
So now charges are flying and the sale is in jeopardy. Conti wants the NLRB to force the union to agree to the terms of the disputed "understanding," so it can get on with negotiations with Rosler and complete the purchase by July 31.
This should be easy to solve. Rodos needs to accept that labor unions are democratic entities, and a vote always is required to make contract changes. USW Local 890L members should recognize that working for Rodos gives them better long-term security. And Conti-well, Conti is getting out of the OTR business, so anything that helps facilitate that action is to its benefit.
Practice the art of compromise, and get it done. You´ll be glad you did.