CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Dec. 5)—Workers at Continental Tire North America Inc.'s tire plant in Charlotte are being asked to cut their pay and benefits 35 percent by January or face the prospect of a 30-percent cutback in production at the site.
The company maintains it needs to save $32 million at the facility—which it says is its most costly to operate—if the factory is to remain competitive with Conti's counterparts in Europe. The cuts would put the Charlotte workers' pay and benefits in line with the average at Conti sites in Europe, said Alan Hippe, CEO of the subsidiary of German tire maker Continental A.G.
Without them, the tire maker will shift some production to Brazil and other low-cost countries, he said. The firm could even close the plant, although that is not being presently considered, he said.
The union is open to discussing ways to cut costs at the site, said Mark Cieslikowski, president of United Steelworkers Local 850. However, Conti has not provided union representatives with numbers needed to make a sound decision, he said.
Conti's plan to reduce manufacturing costs at the passenger and light-truck tire factory is its first proposal in contract negotiations with the USW. The pact between the two expires April 30.