Charlotte, NC (February 16, 2006) – Representatives from Continental Tire North America, Inc. (CTNA) said today the company offered the United Steel Workers (USW) a new approach to reducing manufacturing costs at the Charlotte plant. In negotiations today, CTNA presented the union with an entirely new proposal that achieves the same reduction in manufacturing costs with less impact on current employees and retirees. The parties have agreed to meet again in Charlotte February 20-21 to discuss the company’s most recent proposal.
“We are committed to reaching an agreement with the union that achieves the necessary reductions in manufacturing costs that will make the Charlotte plant competitive,” said CTNA Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Negotiator Rick Ledsinger. “We have done our best to offer as many choices as possible on how to get there. We believe that our most recent proposal will achieve the necessary cost reductions while preserving the standard of living enjoyed by our current employees and retirees.”
During meetings this week, the USW leadership said they had no new proposal and pointed to one offered earlier this month. That proposal included concessions but fell far short of the cost reductions necessary to make CTNA’s Charlotte plant globally cost competitive. Calculations by CTNA project that the union’s proposal would achieve only a small fraction -- approximately $1.7 million -- of the $32 million in manufacturing-cost reductions sought by the company.
CTNA and the USW have been in negotiations since October 2005 over the company’s restructuring plan, which involves reducing manufacturing costs at the Charlotte plant by at least $32 million per year. On January 9, 2006, CTNA announced production curtailments and resulting layoffs in the Charlotte plant due to high manufacturing costs. The layoffs are scheduled to begin March 15, 2006. CTNA has informed the union that these layoffs may be reduced or avoided if the parties can reach an agreement to reduce manufacturing costs by $32 million prior to the scheduled layoffs.
“We want to work together with the union leadership to reach an agreement that reduces manufacturing costs so that we can keep the Charlotte plant running, but it’s a two-way street,” Ledsinger continued. “It is time for the union to get serious about preserving jobs in Charlotte.”
Continental Tire North America, Inc. (www.continentaltire.com), based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a group company of Germany-based Continental Corporation, a leading supplier of brake systems, chassis components, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers. In 2004 the corporation realized sales of EUR 12.6 billion (USD 16 billion). At present it has a worldwide workforce of more than 81,000.