The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 665 broke off bargaining in mid-November with Continental Tire North America (CTNA) Inc. over a severance package for workers who will lose their jobs when tire production ends at Conti's Mayfield plant.
``We are very disappointed by the union's decision to break off negotiations at this time,'' said Nick Fletcher, Conti vice president of human resources. The union said the latest Conti proposal, presented Nov. 18-19, wasn't good enough.
Conti said its new proposal increased the severance payments to $8,000 for all hourly employees with one or more years of service. The prior offer called for only the most senior workers to get that amount.
The tire maker said it also boosted the proposed amount to be put into a special transition assistance fund for the benefit of laid-off workers to $1.5 million from $1.1 million.
About 700 hourly workers will lose their jobs when Conti suspends tire operations at Mayfield by year-end and uses the factory just for mixing and warehouse operations.
Those workers also would get preferential hiring rights at other CTNA plants and would be rehired if tire production ever resumed at Mayfield.
The union said Conti's latest proposal was concessionary and would cost the workers a considerable amount of money to continue health insurance coverage, according to Local 665 President Terry Beane.
With regards to health benefits, Mr. Beane said Conti wants to offer coverage for 30 days, then have the workers put into a program where the state would pay 65 percent of the cost to extend the coverage. That would leave workers to pay roughly $360 a month for family benefits, Local 665 claimed.
Under the current language, all hourly workers would be eligible for paid health coverage under supplemental unemployment benefits for a minimum of 90 days.