Wis. governor will join Mercury negotiations

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Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle says he plans to be involved in negotiations between Mercury Marine and its union as the company considers the possibility of shifting operations from Fond du Lac, Wis., to Stillwater, Okla., which would eliminate as many as 2,000 local jobs.

"We all need to be focused on an outcome that continues to provide family-supporting jobs for hundreds of workers in Fond du Lac and that allows Mercury Marine to continue its market leadership from its headquarters in Wisconsin," said Doyle in a Fond du Lac Reporter newspaper story.

"I will continue to be engaged and, as appropriate, directly involved as these negotiations continue to occur," the governor added.

Doyle said the state has offered an aggressive package to help Mercury maintain its market leadership and operate efficiently.

Meanwhile, union workers have told company officials they need more time to go over 156 requested company documents.

"We are willing to discuss [our contract] to save jobs. We are not going to be pressured into rushing into a decision that affects so many people," local union president Mark Zillges told the newspaper.

The next meeting between Mercury and union officials is scheduled for Monday.

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In related news, Doyle has nearly $4 million in assistance for dislocated workers, including those from Mercury Marine, providing expanded employment and training services available to them through 10 regional Workforce Development Boards.

"This funding will help employees increase their skills and attain new employment sooner," Doyle said in a statement. "We will be able to offer retraining and re-employment services tailored to meet the needs of individual workers, connecting workers to available jobs or providing new skills to prepare them for their next job."

The Fox Valley Workforce Development Area, which covers Mercury Marine, received $446,400.

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