Representatives from the United Steelworkers (USW) and RÃ¶sler Group have headed back to the bargaining table to try to reach an agreement for 257 union employees at Continental Tire North America (CTNA) Inc.'s Bryan, Ohio, plant.
The union met with Rodos Giants L.L.C.-the U.S. arm of RÃ¶sler-during the week of Aug. 1 and tentatively is scheduled to meet with them again on Aug. 24, according to USW Local 890L Chairman John Bowling.
Meanwhile, CTNA has extended to Aug. 31 its letter of intent with Dortmund, Germany-based RÃ¶sler to sell the Bryan off-the-road tire plant, a company spokeswoman said. Conti initially had signed a letter of intent with RÃ¶sler, parent of Rodos, in January. The sale was scheduled to close July 31 pending a collective bargaining agreement between RÃ¶sler and the union-an action required by the successorship clause of Conti's contract with the USW.
Talks between RÃ¶sler and the union broke down after the two parties disputed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by union officials in June. RÃ¶sler has contended the MOU was a tentative agreement while the USW has disagreed.
CTNA then filed an unfair labor practice charge against the USW with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB has ``deferred further proceedings in connection with CTNA's unfair labor practice charge pending the outcome of contractual grievance and arbitration procedure,'' the CTNA spokeswoman said.
Mr. Bowling said the union and Rodos still have ``a ways to go'' in reaching a deal, particularly on the pension issue. Conti is only responsible for the pensions of workers fully vested at the time of the sale to RÃ¶sler, he added.
In negotiations earlier this month, the MOU came up but wasn't the centerpiece of the talks, Mr. Bowling said, as Rodos brought different proposals to the table.
Other prospective buyers of the Bryan facility had expressed interest to CTNA and the union, including Pensler Capital Corp., but Mr. Bowling said neither the company nor the union has met formally with any other buyers. He said his understanding is that ``as long as Continental has this (deal) still alive with RÃ¶sler, they're obligated to try to reach an agreement with them first.''
The USW and CTNA also met the week of July 18 for midterm contract re-opener talks, which were limited to retirement issues such as benefits for about 3,000 USW members employed at plants in Charlotte, N.C., Mayfield, Ky., and Bryan. The contracts for all three plants will expire on different dates in 2006.
The parties agreed to an increase in the pension multiplier to $51.50 per month of service, retroactive to April 1, 2003. The increase applies to all workers who retired on or after that date.
The early retirement supplement also was increased to $340, retroactive to April 1. CTNA also agreed to continue the $50 reimbursement for Medicare Part B coverage, provided the retiree is enrolled in that plan.
A USW spokesman noted that Conti had come to the re-opener session wanting to discuss everything including the stalled RÃ¶sler deal, but ``our position was that's not the purpose of the re-opener,'' and USW officials limited the talks to pension benefits.
The USW also is looking for expedited arbitration, not only on the Bryan sale but also on CTNA's Mayfield facility, which ceased production of passenger and light truck tires last year.
The spokesman said the union and the company are in dispute over whether CTNA should pay shutdown benefits to the 1,200 workers who were laid off.