PITTSBURGH (Dec. 21, 2006) — The United Steelworkers (USW) has filed a class-action lawsuit against Continental Tire North America Inc., accusing the tire maker of not upholding obligations to retirees.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 14 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, but was disclosed by the union Dec. 21.
The USW claims Conti breached agreements promising lifetime insurance coverage by announcing that it would shift part of the cost of retiree medical coverage from the company to the retirees and surviving spouses in 2007.
The union is seeking a declaration that the retirees' benefits cannot be modified or terminated by the company as well as an injunction against changes and damages.
Rick Holcomb, Conti's legal counsel, said the union is mischaracterizing the company's actions as well as past talks between the firm and the union in which the USW recognized Conti's right to alter plan designs.
“We're merely altering the plan design and implementing some (company) contribution caps,” he told Tire Business, adding that the firm is not terminating retiree medical benefits.
Mr. Holcomb added that Conti will continue to negotiate with the union. Though no formal talks are scheduled, he said both parties are in contact for talks in January.