Mercury union says no to new vote

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More than 200 union members at Mercury Marine have signed petitions calling for a second vote on a labor contract that was rejected last weekend, but union officials say there won't be a second vote unless changes are made to the proposal, according to reports.

The union voted overwhelmingly last Sunday to reject what Mercury says was its final proposal. That plan expires this weekend.

"As we've stated since presenting our best and final contract proposal on Aug. 18, we won't make changes to this contract because a) it contains changes that are necessary for Mercury to lower its cost structure and emerge from the current economic downturn as a stronger company better equipped to operate in a smaller, much different marine market, and b) it now appears the union is asking for changes to be made simply to create an appearance of change, and to engage in such an open sham is not something the company would take lightly," Mercury spokesman Steve Fleming said in an e-mail to Soundings Trade Only.

Following the plans' rejection by the union, Mercury announced it would begin the process of moving from Fond du Lac, Wis., to its plant in Stillwater, Okla. Mercury is still deciding if it will also move its corporate headquarters to Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle issued a statement Thursday saying the state has offered "an aggressive package" that would allow Mercury to continue operations in the state.

"Mercury Marine is offering a remarkable opportunity to consolidate hundreds of jobs here in Wisconsin. Let me assure the Fond du Lac community that this incentive package is largely based on Mercury Marine's continued and long-term presence in Fond du Lac," the governor said.

"This incentive package is built on economic development programs created in my recent budget with these situations in mind," Doyle continued. "These incentives are 'performance-based' and in order for the company to maximize the full value of the incentives, it must meet certain milestones including the creation and retention of nearly 2,700 jobs and maintaining a significant presence in Fond du Lac for 12 years.

Fleming said this morning that Mercury has enjoyed a "great relationship" with the Fond du Lac community for many decades, but also has a "wonderful affiliation with the people and governments of Stillwater and Oklahoma."

Click here for the Journal Sentinel article.

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