Do Mercury and Brett Favre have something in common?

Mercury's will-it-or-won't-it decision to move jobs to Oklahoma is starting to resemble the summer saga of another Wisconsin institution: Brett Favre.

mike_mugnewBy 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.


  1. Just remember – there are some companies in Wisconsin who are local, loyal, reliable, and strong. Ole Evinrude, the inventor of the outboard engine, invented and tested the first outboard engine in Wisconsin, so our heritage within the industry are still within the state of Wisconsin. And for many of us – we are confident that our future here is in good hands regardless of the outcome of this situation. As for Favre – some say he’ll be missed, other’s say it is Roger’s time to shine. Personally I’m cheering for the underdog and I think we all might be surprised by who pulls out in front of the pack.

  2. Nobody lost a job when Favre retired, maybe someone in Minnesota lost one when he came back but more than likely a hundred more were created making and selling purple number 4 stuff. If Merc could be replaced as easily as Rogers replaced Favre this wouldn’t be so sad but once again the unions have proven to outdue themselves. The Merc plant in OK is so much more efficient there is no wonder the company wants to shut down
    Fond du Lac, not to mention sales are off 100 fold. This industry is struggling to survive in this country and being perocial regarding what state it is in is just foolish. United we stand divided we fall, industries come and industries go the good hard working folks of Wisconsin will either move, follow or fold, but to compare them to the Brett Favre or the Fond du Lac saga is simply inapprorpriate reporting.

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