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Old 08-23-2009, 06:03 PM   #1
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Default Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

By Rick Barrett of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Aug. 23, 2009 12:22 p.m.

Fond du Lac — In a move that could cost them their jobs, Mercury Marine Inc. employees Sunday by a large margin rejected contract concessions that would have included lower wages for new hires and employees called back from layoff.

The final vote was not immediately available. Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

Union members simply could not accept concessions that would have drastically reduced the wages of laid-off employees, some with 30 years of tenure at the company, if they were called back to work, said Mark Zillges, president of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 1947, which represents the Mercury Marine plant workers.

Mercury, one of the Fox Valley's largest employers, has said that it will move much of its outboard engine manufacturing to Stillwater, Okla., unless its Fond du Lac labor union accepts contract concessions necessary to keep the company competitive.

The proposed concessions included a seven-year wage freeze, about 30% lower wages for new hires and workers called back from layoff, and changes in pension benefits that workers said would have made retirement unaffordable.

As many as 850 manufacturing jobs could be eliminated in Fond du Lac if the company shuts down its operations here over the next three years, according to the company. It would leave from "zero to 200" jobs at the plant, executives said.

It also could mean that Fond du Lac will lose Mercury Marine's world headquarters, which employs about 1,000 people.

A decision on the headquarters, as well as the manufacturing plant, will come yet this summer, according to Mercury President Mark Schwabero.

Sunday's vote was pivotal for the 70-year-old outboard engine manufacturer with deep roots in Fond du Lac.

Although there's still time before for another union vote before the company's proposal expires Aug. 29, the company has said it wasn't interested in further negotiations.
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

What do you guys think?

Are the labor problems at Mercury Marine going to lead to reliability/quality issues with their engines and outdrives?

I hope not.
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Old 08-24-2009, 02:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

well...being a union type puke...Ive been involved in layoff and a strike.....although I'd like to say that it also means that the quality won't suffer...I think there will be issues....unfortunately there are people that will take thier anger on the parts.......

or do other disgusting things...

SP :|
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Old 08-24-2009, 04:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

It's sad when a company that is a major employer pulls out of a town. I can't really blame the union either for rejecting the concessions requested by Mercury in the article. They seem to me to be rather excessive. I wonder if Mercury was negotiating in good faith or just trying to justify a move anyway.
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Old 08-24-2009, 12:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

It is a tough situation. I can see both sides. With Mercury's outboard and sterndrive sales down 43% from last year, something has to give.

I just hope that the company can maintain quality in their products and an acceptable level of customer service through the turmoil. If Mercury earns themselves a reputation for producing junk that they do not stand behind, it will be a very difficult hill for them to climb.
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Old 08-24-2009, 01:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

No doubt that Merc in Fond du Lac is horribly losing money due to the revenue decline, and have to cut costs or risk liquidation. The main point I see in the little I know of this, is a 7 year wage freeze which portends to anticipate that when sales pick up, the workers do not stand to improve; I think that point should be more of a contingency rather than a certainty.

Regarding a 30% reduction in starting wages for new or returning employees, considering the drubbing the whole economy has had up there, 30% less salary is better than $0 coming in to a household. IMHO. Tom.
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

I don't begrudge anyone the right to make a living or make money. That applies equally to individuals as well as businesses. That being said, the union has the right to reject offers. However, the company has the right to close the plant and move operations to China where the local workers are more than happy to work for significantly less. What would you do if you owned a company that cost more to run than the company made in a year?

The old saying "cutting ones nose off to spite ones face" comes to mind. I'm not saying that the workers don't deserve more money. I'm only saying that one needs to look at the alternatives. Is there another employer in the area that will pay a completitive wage? Remember; labor is only as valuable as what someone is willing to pay for it.
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: Union Workers Reject Mercury Marine Pact

No one likes a pay cut, but, its better than not having a job. They could also take the pay cut and look for another job at their old wage. You have better options when you are employed. This is another example of union leaders failing the membership. The local workers lose their jobs and the union leaders go back to where ever they came from and continue on with their lives and pay. I have seen this same situation play out in our town.

A very sad time for the workers at Mercury Marine as it doesnt appear that the company is trying to take advantage.
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