Union using media in fight with CGT CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The United Steelworkers of America launched a ``corporate campaign'' against Continental General Tire Jan. 12 to protest company actions during the ongoing strike at its Charlotte radial passenger tire plant.
But the announcement didn't prevent both sides from meeting Jan. 11 and 13 to discuss financial package costs and a new counter proposal from the USWA.
The union opened its campaign by running full-page newspaper ads and radio spots describing CGT's ``double-crossing American working families'' by not sharing its recent financial success with union workers through competitive labor agreements.
The newspaper ads ran in the Charlotte Observer, the Wall Street Journal and local publications in Bryan, Ohio; Mayfield, Ky.; and Mount Vernon, Ill., where Conti General plants are located.
USWA Local 850's 1,450 members have been on strike in Charlotte since Sept. 20, primarily over wages and pension benefits. Despite being offered increases in both areas, the local said it wasn't enough and chose to strike. Conti General has hired 525 to 550 replacement workers.
The union claims that during tough times in the late 1980s and early 1990s Conti General's USWA workers made many concessions.
But in recent years as Conti General has made financial strides, the company has double-crossed the workers ``by demanding more drastic givebacks and bargaining in bad faith,'' the ad said.
The firm's latest proposal offered a 25-cent increase up front and a 25-cent raise 18 months later.
The union hopes its newest proposal, which was undisclosed at press time, will close the gap on cost estimates from previous offers. Conti General believes its most recent offer is competitive.
Judge's ruling may impact union local
NATCHEZ, Miss.—No one knows when the strike at Titan Tire of Natchez will end, but a recent judicial ruling indicates how some issues will be interpreted when it does.
The issues included past practices, profit-sharing plans and grievance arbitration, according to a spokesman for United Steelworkers of America Local 303.
They were addressed previously in court rulings during bankruptcy proceedings with Natchez-based Fidelity Tire Manufacturing Co.
Titan and its President and CEO Maurice Taylor Jr. took control of Fidelity parent Condere Corp. in 1997 and completed the purchase of Fidelity shortly before Local 303 went on strike Sept. 15. The union said it rejected its three-year pact with Titan due to several unfair labor practices, including failure to honor contract terms.
The union claimed in an Oct. 5 hearing that Mr. Taylor and Titan refused to honor the agreements negotiated between the two sides in 1997. The court ruled Dec. 21 Titan must accept the past practices adhered to by labor and management and honor the union's profit-sharing plan.
Titan believes the court's decisions are moot because the union rejected the original Fidelity contract in 1997.
Negotiations were scheduled to resume Jan. 14 in Natchez.
Judge OKs Titan strikers' benefits
DES MOINES, Iowa—An Iowa judge has upheld the state's approval of unemployment benefits for striking union workers at Titan Tire Corp.'s farm tire plant in Des Moines.
But most of the recipients won't get money past mid-February, forcing the union to look elsewhere to help its members.
About 450 of the 670 members who struck at the plant May 1 would continue to receive benefits granted by the Iowa Workforce Development Commission in August.