Sunday’s union vote critical for Mercury

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — The future of Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac could come down to a vote by workers on Sunday at 9 a.m.

A message to employees released Thursday put it plainly: “Your vote on the company’s final offer will determine whether Mercury will remain in Fond du Lac, or will have to move its operations out of Wisconsin.”

A yes vote by union members would keep Mercury in Fond du Lac for at least seven years, Mercury said. In addition, 200 manufacturing jobs from Mercury’s Stillwater, Okla., plant would likely shift to Wisconsin.

However, the contract includes concessions such as a seven-year wage freeze and about 30 percent lower pay for new hires and employees called back from layoffs, which prevented union leaders from accepting a tentative agreement earlier in the week. Mercury said the changes are necessary because of the new economic reality facing the marine industry.

The company and the union negotiated for several weeks before the union announced it would send Mercury’s offer to a vote.

Any decision on the future location of Mercury’s headquarters — which is currently in Fond du Lac — will be made separately from decisions about manufacturing. However, officials have said that decision will be heavily influenced by what happens with manufacturing.

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