Union responds to what it calls an insult from Continental

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The United Steelworkers (USW) expressed "outrage" over the public statements made last week by a Continental Tire North America Inc. (CTNA) executive announcing a new proposal to union members in Charlotte, N.C.

In a press release, the company said it is seeking $32 million in manufacturing cost cuts, which CTNA officials say will have "less impact on current employees and retirees."

"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," said Rick Ledsinger, vice president of human resources and chief negotiator for CTNA, in the release. "It is time for the union to get serious about preserving jobs in Charlotte."

"It's an insult for him to state publicly that the USW or the Local 850 leadership is not serious about the company's slash-and-burn proposal at the Charlotte, N.C., plant," said USW Executive Vice President Ron Hoover. "We've been working for months trying to engage the company in a constructive dialogue on how to maintain production in Charlotte.

"Right now, as we're evaluating and costing-out the company proposal given to us on Feb. 16, one thing is noticeably absent. There are absolutely zero job security provisions to maintain future productivity in Charlotte."

The union says job security provisions are common in master contracts that exist between the USW and major tire producers such as Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC and Michelin North America Inc.

Both sides have agreed to resume talks in Charlotte on Feb. 20-21.

The USW is part of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union.

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