Union rejects Mercury contract, will meet with president today

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — Union workers at Mercury Marine voted Sunday to reject a contract proposal that would have kept manufacturing jobs in Fond du Lac through 2016, according to a release from Mercury.

As a result, the company said Monday it will consolidate much of its Fond du Lac manufacturing operations with its existing operations in an expanded Stillwater, Okla., facility.

There will be at least one more meeting between Fond du Lac union representatives and Mercury President Mark Schwabero, scheduled for later today. Mercury said the meeting was set a week ago, before the contract vote, and emphasized that its final offer was not up for negotiation.

The company has said the offer remains valid until midnight Saturday.

Barring a last-minute deal, Mercury expects consolidation to take between 24 and 36 months. Details of state and local support programs will be finalized over the next few days, the company said.

The company and the union negotiated for several weeks before the union announced it would send Mercury’s offer to a vote. Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers — the union that represents production workers at Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac — cast ballots at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Mercury said it will continue to operate the Fond du Lac facility under the terms and conditions of the existing contract, which expires in 2012.

“We appreciate the patient support of our employees and communities as we’ve gone through this process,” Schwabero said in a statement after the vote. “This has been a very difficult and stressful process for all involved. We will work closely with our team in Fond du Lac to develop and communicate a transition plan for this 24-36 month process.”

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