Mercury Marine Union Approves Deal To Keep Jobs In Wisconsin
FOND DU LAC, Wisconsin -- Mercury Marine union workers in Wisconsin have agreed to accept the same previously rejected labor contract it needed to keep 850 manufacturing jobs from moving to Oklahoma, according to Mercury Marine officials.
Mercury Marine officials stated in a released that "consolidation of work in Fond du Lac will include transition of work from the company's Stillwater, Oklahoma facilities over the next 18-24 months.
Last month, workers overwhelmingly rejected the contract which included a pay freeze for seven years and increased health care costs for employees, but members voted to accept those terms on Friday.
"After weeks of intense discussions and completion of the voting process, we accept the union's ratification of our contract proposal," said Mark Schwabero, president of Mercury Marine in a statement. "As we've stated throughout this important process, comprehensive changes to wages, benefits and operational flexibility are necessary for Mercury to effectively compete in a smaller and fundamentally changed marketplace."
Schwabero said Mercury Marine will develop a transition plan that will balance both the needs of its employees, both Stillwater and Fond du Lac communities, and Mercury Marine's future.
A vote count was not released by the union.
Mercury Marine announced it would move nearly 850 manufacturing jobs from its headquarters in Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin to Stillwater after union workers there voted down the contract. And despite Friday's outcome, Stillwater officials were hoping Mercury Marine would live up to a promise they had already made.
"They sent out a press statement that they'll be relocating to Stillwater and that transition will begin immediately and they had an ethical and moral obligation to the community and to go through that agreement," said Rep. Cory Williams, District 34 (D).
But now since union workers agreed to the contract, Oklahoma could lose nearly 400 jobs to Wisconsin.
"It seems like a feast or famine either, gain a lot or lose a lot. It puts two different states into competition, but again we have a wonderful package to offer here," said Stillwater City Manager Dan Galloway.
Representative Cory Williams said moving the jobs to Wisconsin could cost the company its tax incentives here in Oklahoma.
"We passed those under the understanding that this was a long term commitment by Mercury Marine. Now we're being told, 'due to no fault of our own, due to whims of the union, we may be shutting our doors here' and I don't think taxpayers should have to pay a burden for that," Williams said.