CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 29, 2005) — Continental Tire North America Inc. has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Steelworkers as the deal to sell its Bryan, Ohio, tire plant seems stalled with the union and potential buyer failing to agree on a new contract.
Conti said the charge, filed with the National Labor Relations Board, is “based upon the union's refusal to enter into a labor agreement with Rodos Giants L.L.C.” Rodos is the U.S. corporation operated by Rosler Group of Germany.
“The Steelworkers have both legal and contractual obligations to negotiate a new labor agreement with the potential purchaser of the Bryan plant,” said Rick Ledsinger, vice president of human resources for Conti. “The union clearly violated these obligations by refusing to recognize its agreement with Rodos and breaking off negotiations.”
But a union spokesman said the charges are without merit.
“It's apparent that anybody can file charges, even frivolous ones,” he told Tire Business.
On June 21, Rosler Group and the union offered widely contrasting views of the progress of talks to satisfy a successorship clause in Conti's pact with the union calling for a new contract with any buyer before a sale can go through.
Rosler Group initially told Tire Business that the company had signed a deal June 16 with the union. Later that day the union said the potential sale was off as they failed to reach a consensus. The parties later said the June 16 draft was a memorandum of understanding (MOU), but the union said it rejected the MOU on June 20.
Conti said it signed a letter of intent with Rosler on Jan. 13, and the German company started talks with the union in February, culminating in the June 16 MOU.
“The union now denies that the June 16 memorandum of understanding was a binding agreement,” Conti said in a statement.
The union spokesman rejected the notion.
“There's no agreement at all between the Steelworkers and Rosler,” he said.
Conti said it is seeking an order from the NLRB requiring the union to comply with the terms of the June 16 MOU. Conti and Rosler then would resume bargaining to implement the transaction, the tire maker said.
Rosler initially told Tire Business that the June 16 MOU largely mirrored the union's contract with Conti. Rosler declined to discuss many details, but the deal would expire on Dec. 10, 2006.
“Of course, we're planning on doing better for both sides…both parties really don't like it that much, but it's a good start, in my opinion,” Paul Rosler Jr., managing director and CEO of Rosler Group, said June 21.