FOND DU LAC -
After a two hour meeting at Fond du Lac High School, more than800 members of the International Association of Machinists andAerospace Workers, Local Workers Union 1947 in Fond du Lac, votedby secret ballot on some proposed changes to the unioncontract.
"I voted no," Steve Wiskow told FOX 11. Wiskow has worked forMercury Marine for 33 years. He was one of what the union said isan overwhelming majority of members who voted the contract down.Union leaders refused to release the details of the vote.
"I have to look out for my fellow employees and people that arelaid off right now," Wiskow said. "I don't think it's fair."
Union leaders said the proposal included a wage freeze, benefitcuts and a wage cut for laid-off workers who are brought back towork.
"I'm gonna go ahead and back them and see what I can do forthem," 38-year employee Mike Schmitz told FOX 11 after the vote."I'm not gonna sell them down the tube either."
Union leaders said that's not the only problem with theproposal.
"This language means a lot to these people," union presidentMark Zillges said. "It's 50 years of arguing over and they justwant to strip it away and that's nuts."
Zillges said the company proposed way too many changes that hadnothing to do with the economy.
"What they did to the management clause is re-write it sobasically they can do anything with you, any time of day, anyweekday, any day and we can't argue," Zillges said.
"These are the things we felt we needed to have to have beenable to deal with a totally different marine business and marineenvironment than we've had in the past," Mercury Marine PresidentMark Schwabero said.
Over the next two years, Schwabero says hundreds of jobs couldleave Fond du Lac. Mercury is planning to consolidate much of itsFond du Lac operations with an expanded facility in Stillwater,Oklahoma. Schwabero said the Fond du Lac facility will continue tooperate for now under the terms and conditions of the existingcontract, which expires in 2012.
"It's just the reality of the business world today," Schwaberosaid.
The union sees it differently.
"We're willing to work with the company," union negotiatorRussell Krings said. "We're willing to help them with the thingsthey need but we're not going to give them everything theywant."
The company said some of the manufacturing jobs could startleaving Fond du Lac yet this year. As for the future of thecompany's headquarters, Schwabero said that is a separate decision,which he plans to announce very soon.
The union has a meeting with the company set up for Tuesday.Whether that meeting will still happen is uncertain. The companysays it has no plans to re-open the negotiations. The union has noplans to bring the matter back for another vote.
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