CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 6)—Negotiations between Continental Tire North America Inc. and the United Steelworkers have not resulted in a pact that achieves company mandated manufacturing-cost reductions at the firm's Charlotte plant, the tire maker said.
If a goal of at least $32 million in cost cuts isn't met, Conti said it will lay off 513 hourly and salaried employees, reduce passenger and light-truck tire manufacturing by 30 percent and slash $32 million in costs at the Charlotte factory beginning March 15. The firm maintains the Charlotte factory has the highest production costs of any company facility.
USW and Conti officials met Feb. 2 and 3 in Charlotte where the union made a counter proposal that the company said fell far short of its $32 million goal. The firm estimated the union's proposal would result in about $1.7 million in reductions.
"Although the union acknowledges our need to reduce manufacturing costs and has presented us with a concessionary proposal, the USW still has not recognized the gravity of the company's competitive disadvantage in Charlotte," according to Rick Ledsinger, vice president of human resources and chief negotiator.
Local 850 President Mark Cieslikowski countered that the union presented a proposal the would give the firm between $15 million and $16 million in savings at the plant, not $1.7 million, but the company simply tossed aside part of the package. "They gave a counter proposal back of $32.5 million, which is higher than their original figure," he added.
"We're basically negotiating against ourselves; there's no give on their side," he said. "When we broke off Friday we questioned them on some things and one of their representatives said he wasn't prepared to give us answers then and we should make an appointment. This isn't negotiations, it's an ultimatum. They're mindset is to lay off workers at the plant."
New talks have not been scheduled but Cieslikowski said the union would contact the company later this week to set up another negotiating session.