PITTSBURGH (June 22, 2005) — One of the lead negotiators for the United Steelworkers (USW) in labor talks over the acquisition of Continental Tire North America Inc.'s Bryan, Ohio, plant disputed the R"sler Group's claims of a tentative labor contract.
Ron Hoover, the International USW's contract coordinator, had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Dortmund, Germany-based R"sler Group, but he said the MOU was not a tentative agreement and it listed several items of disagreement between the two parties. He declined to discuss those items, saying, “I don't like to negotiate in public,” but acknowledged that the proposed contract had similarities to the union's existing contract with Conti.
Mr. Hoover admitted he was surprised that Paul R"sler, CEO and managing director of the R"sler Group, had said that the company was pleased to have reached an agreement with the union and “will continue with the acquisition” of the off-the-road tire plant in Bryan from Conti. He said Mr. R"sler was aware that the MOU needed to be ratified by Bryan Local 890L before the sale of the plant could close.
The USW and Conti are discussing the matter, Mr. Hoover said, and the union is willing to work with another buyer if Conti wants to sell the factory to someone else. He added that he has not spoken to the R"sler Group since the union broke off talks on June 20, nor are any future talks with the OTR tire retreader scheduled.