CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Continental Tire North America Inc. said a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed complaints against its firm filed by United Steelworkers.
The USW plans to appeal the decision, which a spokesman characterized as "unfounded" based on previous NLRB complaints against the Charlotte-based tire maker.
"This abrupt reversal in position is based on no additional facts and no change in law," the union spokesman said. "The NLRB´s determination is unfounded and will be appealed."
The union last year had filed an unfair labor practices charge against Conti relating to negotiations surrounding the firm´s plans to end tire production at its plant in Charlotte. Conti in April declared an impasse in negotiations and moved forward with its plans.
"We consider the action unlawful and will take every step to see that the company´s action is reversed," Ron Hoover, executive vice president of the USW, said at the time.
But Conti said the NLRB´s regional director, Willie Clark Jr., found that "there is insufficient evidence of a violation and further proceedings are not warranted."
Conti said in a statement that the NLRB further found that Conti did not violate any labor laws. The tire maker said the NLRB concluded it:
— provided necessary information to the union;
— lawfully reached an impasse with the union before implementing its cost-cutting plan; and
— lawfully implemented production cuts and layoffs in Charlotte.
"The NLRB´s decision to dismiss these allegations validates what we have said all along-that from day one we bargained in good faith with the United Steelworkers," said Conti spokesman Rick Holcomb.
"It is our hope that the union will adhere to the same standard and that we can now move forward and conclude our negotiations."
The two sides still are in negotiations regarding the effects of Conti´s indefinite suspension of production in July in Charlotte.
Conti said the union has refused to discuss retiree medical benefits since September, for which the tire maker filed its own complaint March 1 with the NLRB.
The union in December filed a class-action lawsuit against Conti, accusing the tire maker of not upholding its obligations to retirees. The USW claims Conti breached agreements promising lifetime insurance coverage by announcing that it would shift part of the cost of retiree medical coverage from the company to the retirees and surviving spouses in 2007.