Union officials at Continental Tire North America (CTNA) Inc.'s Bryan, Ohio, off-the-road tire plant have filed a corporate grievance, claiming the tire maker is violating its collective bargaining agreement in its bid to sell the plant.
United Steelworkers (USW) Local 890L said CTNA's plan to close on the sale of the plant with Rodos Giants L.L.C., the U.S. arm of the RÃ¶sler Group-despite the fact the union and Rodos have not reached an agreement-violates the collective bargaining agreement between CTNA and the USW.
The grievance follows Conti's recent filing of an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Steelworkers.
The union is seeking an arbiter to order CTNA to refrain from selling or transferring the Bryan plant until a deal is reached with the buyer prior to the closing date of the sale, which is July 31.
Conti signed a letter of intent with Dortmund, Germany-based RÃ¶sler in January to sell the OTR facility.
``They're (CTNA) telling us that they're proceeding with the sale because there's an agreement with RÃ¶sler,'' said Local 890L Unit Chair John Bowling. ``That's what their position is. We disagree.''
USW and Conti officials are scheduled to meet and discuss the grievance, the Rodos situation and items from the union's contract re-opener proposal on July 18-20 in Charlotte, N.C., he said, declining to elaborate on the re-opener.
On June 16, RÃ¶sler had announced that Rodos and the USW had reached a deal similar to the union's current contract with Conti.
The USW countered that statement by saying the document signed was not a tentative agreement and that there were still outstanding issues to reconcile. Local 890L officials refused to put the document up for a vote by its members.
The successorship clause in CTNA's collective bargaining agreement states that a prospective buyer of the plant must negotiate a new contract before a sale can close.
Both CTNA and Rodos believe the June 16 memorandum of understanding (MOU) is binding and satisfies the successorship obligations, and both have stated they intend to move forward with the purchase.
RÃ¶sler still is a prospective buyer, and CTNA is committed to completing the transaction with RÃ¶sler even though other interested parties have expressed interest in the Bryan plant, a CTNA spokeswoman told Tire Business. She said the company has not discussed the facility with other prospective buyers.
A spokesman at USW headquarters in Pittsburgh said the union is open to negotiating with anyone interested in buying the Bryan plant, including Rodos.
He noted that one of the interested parties is Pensler Capital Corp., the parent firm of Leavittsburg, Ohio-based Denman Tire Corp.
Pensler President Sanford Pensler was traveling and couldn't be reached for comment prior to Tire Business' press deadline.
Mr. Bowling said the union's major issue with RÃ¶sler is that its representatives promised certain concessions but refused to put those items in writing.
When international union representatives met with Rodos in June, they were surprised that Rodos ``began to back up'' on issues they thought were settled, and Rodos declined to discuss those issues further with the local, according to a Local 890L correspondence to its members.
Mr. Bowling declined to discuss specifics on the negotiations but said the union is still willing to talk to RÃ¶sler.
He said he hasn't heard from the company since the June meetings.
The local's correspondence stated that CTNA had failed to respond to the union's final re-opener proposal, so the USW is submitting the dispute to arbitration. The CTNA spokeswoman said the company has made no decision at this point to take the union's grievance to arbitration.
Meanwhile, the NLRB office in Cleveland is waiting to hear evidence for CTNA's complaint against the Steelworkers. Conti wants the union to abide by the June 16 MOU.
Joseph Natale, an examiner at the Cleveland NLRB office, said the office gathers evidence from the charging party in the first two weeks or so, then gathers evidence from the charged party for its response. The examiner then compiles the evidence and presents it, along with relevant past cases, to the regional attorney.
The attorney then will decide whether to issue a formal complaint and set a court hearing or to dismiss the charge-a decision that could be appealed to the NLRB's office in Washington. This initial process generally takes about 45 days, Mr. Natale said.
Conti's Bryan OTR facility employs 312, of which 257 are union workers. The factory opened in 1967 and makes bias- and radial-ply agricultural, earthmover, industrial and off-road tires. It has an estimated capacity of 232 units per day.
Tire Business Staff Reporter Lisa Hockensmith contributed to this report.