Union wants governor to be part of Mercury negotiations

Posted on Written by Michael LaBella

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will request Wisconsin Gov. James Doyle take an active part in any negotiations with Mercury Marine.

Mercury officials are considering shifting operations from Fond du Lac, Wis., to Stillwater, Okla., which would eliminate as many as 2,000 local jobs.

“The state of Wisconsin cannot afford to stand by while a major corporation commits an act of economic extortion in its own back yard,” said IAM business representative Russell Krings, in a statement. “Mercury Marine has benefited for decades from state and local tax incentives and public support. They cannot be allowed to use the current economic crisis to pit one small community against another for the privilege of their presence.”

“Obviously any involvement by the governor would be up to the governor, although the leaders at Mercury find it highly unlikely that the governor would become involved in negotiations between the company and its employees,” company spokesman Steve Fleming told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

The union held a meeting yesterday to update members on the situation, and Mercury and union officials are scheduled to meet tomorrow, he said.

IAM members in Fond du Lac recently ratified a four-year agreement with Mercury Marine that included a provision permitting the contract to be modified in the event of extreme circumstances, according to the union.

“We’re prepared to meet with Mercury Marine, as we have for years, and discuss the best way to preserve jobs, promote this company’s products, and protect the economic interest of this community,” said Krings. “We are not willing to allow short-sighted managers and out-of-town opportunists to tear down what we have worked for years to create.”

Fleming said the company is trying to figure out the best way to handle two facilities that are not running even close to capacity. Consolidation is an “unavoidable possibility,” though Mercury is also looking at what can be done to keep operations in Fond du Lac.

“Although we haven’t asked for any wage concessions or wage changes – we haven’t even brought up the word wages at this point – I think eventually there will be discussions regarding wages, benefits and workplace flexibility,” he said.

– Beth Rosenberg



12 comments on “Union wants governor to be part of Mercury negotiations

  1. Shine

    “The state of Wisconsin cannot afford to stand by while a major corporation commits an act of economic extortion in its own back yard,” said IAM business representative Russell Krings
    comig from a union rep., that quote is priceless.
    They need to just move out of the state completely

  2. Ronnie

    Look at how many boat builders have moved to NC.  Many from FL but several from the rust belt.  Mostly for tax incentives but also no unions.  Why pay a person $50 an hour in pay and benefits to screw on lug nuts when you have a person in another state willing to do the same for $20 per hour?  Plus as a company the corporation gets tax incentives from the state, county, and municipality.  It is called business.
    Companies are in business to make money.
    All of the Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans made in the USA seem to do just fine without union labor.
    Go figure!!

  3. Ralphie

    “the privilege of their presence” WOW – anyone who looks at it this way is really out of step with reality. So the state was a good partner for some years- so what. That’s the past.
    Look at it like marrige and divorce. Good years keep it together. When one takes advantage of the other, and things can’t be reconciled – then divorce.
    I live in Wisconsin and have come to realize, that, as much as I love the state, I cannot afford to retire here. Businesses’ large and small live in the same economic enviromnent.
    Gov. Doyle is at the root of Wisconsins economic comedy – I’ll bet he dosen’t touch this situation.

  4. Tom Marlowe

    Wow! No wonder Mercury is thinking of moving.
    I suppose the folks in Oklahoma who might be employed by Mercury view this possible development a bit different. Like everyone in the marine industry, survival sometimes means doing things we’d rather not.

  5. Grand Man

    Irregardless of the concessions made by the Mercury Union, they would still have the ability to “Strike” whether legal or illegal if the Union chooses to do so. It might not be within the next 12 months, but in the future. They could control product in the marketplace simply by a slowdown, Strike, and/or wages.
    The real answer for the company is to accept the Okahoma offer of incentives, utilize the revenues to improve operations, while streamlining assemblies and improving production costs.  The non-union plant offers savings for Wages, Freight (coming into, & shipping out) The lower operating costs alone indicate the Oklahoma choice is the best company decision.
    Secondly, keep a smaller workforce in Wisconcin supplying parts that we now purchase, that could be manufactured by the company itself. These could be items never considered before for growth revenue. The reduction in workforce along would be a savings, but the opportunity to build new things with a samller facility could be a plus.
    The state of Wisconcin would hate to loose the company, but the Union would hate it even more. They have many loyal workers who have a long history with Mercury. But the time for future planning and economic development is now. The incentives are good, and doing business in the same old way has helped create the problems we face today.

  6. anthony cavallo

    So Mercury Marine has manufacturing , In Japan, Denmark, and In other countries, are they planing on closing them to.The Company was started here in the U.S.A., Why should they close the Factory here close them first, down size their first, Why Should we allow this to happen here.
    Thank You  Anthony

  7. J.G

    Funny to hear a union rep talking about extortion!  Maybe if the union had not extorted so much from the company and from their own members over the years they wouldn’t be in this position today.

  8. George

    Competition rules the day.  This is what happens with fat unions, high taxation, and onerous regulation. The liberals have no one to blame but themselves.

  9. twisted dealer

    MOVE!!!! While you have the chance…The Folks in Stillwater will never forget it…..There is nothing like having a Union Noose over your head…MOVE!!!!

  10. Bluedog

    Anyone in business knows you have a good product at a competitive price. Everyone knows it’s tough out there. I guess the IAM hasn’t been watching what has been going on in Detroit. Same old union mentality, bound to have same old results = higher costs, lower productivity in the long run. MOVE to OK Mercury! Preserve your company and as many US jobs as you can, wherever they may have to be. Being held hostage by this kind of thinking is no longer part of today’s landscape. We no longer have the luxury.

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