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Mercury Marine union passes new contract

Union workers at Mercury Marine Saturday approved a four-year contract during a general membership meeting vote.

The contract was approved by 84 percent of the membership, with 16 percent voting against the pact, according to Local Lodge 1947 of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers’ Web site. The contract runs through 2012.

About 1,550 union machinists work at Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, Wisc., according to the company.

The new pact calls for no base increase in the first year, instead giving all union workers a $500 lump sum. There will be 2 percent increases to base wages in the second and third years of the contract. The fourth year of the agreement calls for a 2.75 percent increase in base wages, said Dennis Rooney, vice president of human resources for Mercury Marine.

Union members’ health care contributions rise under the new contract, Rooney said. They will now pay about 10 percent of costs, which puts them in line with other Mercury Marine employees.

Rooney called the four-year contract “a good signal to the community.”

“Four years assumes a certain level of stability,” he told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

The former contract expired June 21, but was extended to June 28 to allow for an agreement to be reached. The contract will be retroactive to June 21 for all terms and agreements of contract, Rooney said.

Company and union officials worked nearly six months to reach a final agreement, employing "interest-based bargaining" techniques to ensure that concerns of both parties were addressed.

The contract also allows the company to offer up to 150 union employees the opportunity to be “incentivized to retire,” Rooney said, adding they would be offered $15,000 to retire this year.

“We think that will offset the need for layoffs in ’08,” Rooney said, meaning Brunswick’s recent announcement of layoffs across its marine businesses should not directly affect Mercury Marine.

Union president Mark Zillges said he believes it's a fair contract.

"It isn't a showstopper, but I can live with the changes. It's the times, and the company knows it's hard," he told the Fond du Lac Reporter newspaper.

A union representative did not immediately return a call for comment this morning.

Mercury Marine is a $2.3-billion division of Brunswick Corp. It employs 6,200 employees worldwide.

Mercury’s brand portfolio includes Mercury and Mariner outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrives and inboard engines; MotorGuide trolling motors; Mercury and Teignbridge propellers; MotoTron electronic controls; Mercury inflatable boats; Mercury SmartCraft electronics; and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils.  

— Beth Rosenberg


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