"They flat-out lied to us," USW executive vice president Ron Hoover said. "It’s now apparent that Conti never intended to keep making tires in Charlotte. Still, it didn’t stop them from raping our active and retired members."
Hoover said the tiremaker told the union that it had to impose a 15% across-the-board wage and benefit cut May 1 because of high operating costs at the plant, and that without cuts totaling $32 million, the company would be forced to end production at the plant in September.
Now, Hoover said, the company advanced its shutdown plan by two months, claiming business conditions had worsened, which he said, suggests CTNA’s demand for $32 million in savings would not have been enough anyway.
"Not only are they running away from production in countries they determine as other than low-cost, they are pick-pocketing the workers at those plants as a way to raise investment capital to acquire new business lines," said retired USW executive John Sellers.
Hoover dismissed a statement made by Continental AG chief executive Manfred Wennemer denying the company planned to close the plant. "CTNA’s plans for Charlotte are same as its plant in Mayfield, Kentucky," said Hoover. "Stop making tires, but mix just enough rubber where they can try to deny plant shutdown benefits to a thousand workers, many with 20 or more years of service to the company."
Sellers said that CTNA has long enjoyed a competitive advantage to the major players in the North American marketplace when it comes to the cost of labor. "Despite a $2-plus per hour advantage, Conti’s performance here has been weak at best," said Sellers. "They still don’t understand how the U.S. market differs from Europe, and now they expect the workers to pay the price for the ignorance of their arrogance."