NLRB files formal complaint against Titan Tire

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2000

The National Labor Relations Board in New Orleans issued a formal complaint against Titan Tire Wednesday, charging the company owes back pay and jobs to striking workers.

But with a lengthy hearing likely and the possibility of appeals, it could be some time before the issue is settled.

The NLRB&160;set a hearing for Dec. 11 at the Adams County Courthouse. NLRB spokesman Mike Frost said the hearing could last about a month.

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United Steelworkers of America Local 303L has been on strike from the Natchez tire plant since September 1998.

Titan CEO Morry Taylor called the complaint &uot;laughter in its highest extent,&uot; while Local 303L President Leo &uot;T-Bone&uot; Bradley was optimistic striking workers will get their jobs back.

&uot;It’s great,&uot; Bradley said. &uot;Finally somebody woke up and realized this man’s violated the laws.&uot;

The NLRB’s complaint states Titan and Fidelity Tire, the previous owner of Natchez’s tire plant, are altar egos – meaning they shared the same equipment, customers and supervision.

Therefore, according to the complaint, Titan did not have the right to fire about 250 Titan employees when it took over the plant in September 1998 without first negotiating with the union.

Union members have estimated hiring back workers would cost Titan $30 million. The NLRB would not estimate the cost to the company.

An administrative law judge assigned by NLRB will oversee the hearing, and all parties – the NLRB, Steelworkers and Titan – will have a chance to present witnesses and testimony, Frost said.

If the judge rules against Titan, the company can still appeal his decision to a five-judge panel of the NLRB, then to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Taylor said the lengthy appeals process could stall any final decision on the issue.

&uot;I figure in five years they’ll get to the first federal court,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;By that time they’ll all be enjoying retirement pay.&uot;

Th NLRB complaint alleges:

4That in August 1998, Taylor threatened to fire employees, lower wages, move the work to another plant or close the plant because of employees’ involvement with the union.

4That Taylor asked employees to remove the union as their collective bargaining representative in August 1998.

4 That since November 1998, Titan refused to give the union requested information about pay rates and hiring dates for production and maintenance employees.

4 That Titan refused to give the union information about contractor Mark E. Mason.

4 That Titan refused to give the union information about daily production at the plant. The complaint states that the union, as the collective bargaining unit, needs information for negotiations.