Continental Tire North America, Inc. plans to lay off up to half its local workforce unless union workers accept pay and benefit cuts by March. Continental currently employs over 1,000 workers at its Charlotte plant.
Chief Executive Officer Alan Hippe announced last fall that the Charlotte plan would reduce production if the workers did not agree to a 35 percent cut in wages and benefits. Those cuts would help the plant save $32 million annually. Hippe would not say whether the layoffs would be eliminated completely if the union agrees to the company’s terms. He did suggest however, that they could at least be reduced.
“It is a step-by-step approach,” Hippe said. I cannot say what is coming next.”
The union could not accept the cuts without assurances of job security, said Mark Cieslikowski, president of the Charlotte plant’s United Steelworkers Local 850. The union would also like more information regarding the plant’s high costs.
“They did this for (the) shock factor to pressure employees into concessions,” according to Cieslikowski. “The layoffs might not happen if we can work out an agreement.”
Continental plans a two-tier layoff, including 241 salaried and hourly positions in mid-March and another 272 in late June. In 1999, the plant employed roughly 1,450 workers. After the proposed layoffs, the plant would be left with approximately 570 workers. Currently, the factory makes about 26,000 car and truck tires a day.