By Mike Davin, Online Editor, Boating Industry — The situation between Mercury Marine and its union is becoming a little dizzying for anyone closely following the news. Several times over the past weeks — most recently on Saturday when an important deadline passed — it has appeared that the company's pending shift of manufacturing jobs to Oklahoma was a done deal.
Each time, however, some bit of news comes along that leaves the door open a crack for jobs to remain in Fond du Lac. First, it was rumblings that a group of workers was organizing a re-vote on the company's proposed contract. After that fizzled, it seemed all hope for Fondy was lost — until last night, when Mercury sent a release saying that in light of uncertainty about the re-vote, the company would "meet to bring clarity to the communications regarding the unchanged 'best and final' proposal."
It's all starting to resemble the recent saga of another Wisconsin institution who left home: Quarterback Brett Favre.
Particularly for those of us based in the Midwest, daily updates on the will-he-or-won't-he tale of the former Packer's potential move to Minnesota were ubiquitous this summer. And at times, the chances of a second Favre un-retirement seemed about as dim as (maybe dimmer than) the hope that Fond du Lac will retain a large part of Mercury's manufacturing operation. And yet, about the same time as Mercury's latest announcement, Favre was suited up in purple, throwing a touchdown pass on Monday night.
Now, I'm not suggesting that anything unexpected is about to happen between Mercury and its Fond du Lac workers. Mercury President Mark Schwabero has said the plan is to move jobs to Oklahoma, and I believe him. But given the way things have played out, no one should be surprised if some Wisconsinites are holding out hope that Mercury jobs will remain — or if workers in Oklahoma aren't ready to breathe a sigh of relief just yet.
For everyone's sake, I hope Mercury finds a way to quickly and definitively end speculation on the matter. Although, after a summer of maybe's and what if's, that ship might have sailed.
Perhaps in business, as in sports, it ain't over till it's over.
UPDATE 9/2: Another twist today in the Mercury drama — Mercury will let Fond du Lac employees vote again on the proposal that was rejected more than a week ago. Read about it here.
UPDATE 9/8: Well, now it's official — Brett Favre will be playing this Sunday in the NFL, and Mercury will remain in Fond du Lac. Read about it here.