Union to vote on Mercury proposal

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — Contract negotiations between Mercury Marine and the union that represents Mercury’s hourly workers in Fond du Lac ended negotiations Monday without reaching a tentative agreement, according to a release from Mercury. The union said it will present a proposal from Mercury to its members for a vote Sunday.

Monday had been targeted as the deadline for finalization of an agreement between Mercury and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Even without a tentative agreement on the contract, however, union leaders have the ability to place the company’s proposal before their membership for a ratification vote, Mercury said.

Representatives of the company and the union talked for about five hours Monday in Fond du Lac before the union informed Mercury of its plans for a vote.

Mark Schwabero, Mercury Marine president, said in the release he was disappointed a tentative agreement had not been reached.

“It’s extremely disappointing that these past two weeks of negotiations, as well as months of preparation, have not resulted in a tentative agreement,” Schwabero said.

According to Mercury, the proposal being considered has the potential for a long-term contract that includes “wages that are competitive for this region, a benefits package similar to that of Mercury’s salaried workers and operational flexibility similar to that in place at other locations.”

“This is not an attempt to take advantage of a struggling economy,” Schwabero said. “The terms being presented to the union are truly the best option for a competitive and profitable operation. The company has been very open and forthcoming and, we think, reasonable in our requests.”

Union officials object to concessions such as a seven-year wage freeze, pay cuts for laid-off employees called back to work and higher health care costs for retirees, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Representatives of the company and union leadership have met over the last two weeks to negotiate changes on benefits, wages and operational flexibility. Mercury is attempting to decrease underutilization of its facilities, and consolidation of its operations in Fond du Lac or Stillwater, Okla., is a possible option.

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