UPDATE: Mercury union calls for new talks

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The union representing Mercury Marine workers in Fond du Lac, Wis., is calling for a new round of talks.

In a statement released this afternoon, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is working against a tight deadline to preserve hundreds of jobs at the company's Fond du Lac facility.

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

"These workers and this community deserve more than a rushed process with an artificial deadline that failed to deliver a solution that worked for everyone," Midwest Territory vice president Philip Gruber said in the statement. "We are prepared to meet anytime, anywhere with this company to create a proposal that fairly addresses the needs of this company and the future of this community."

Mercury officials have said they will not make changes to the proposed contract.

"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 today.

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