I am not sure why I was surprised when I saw the news about the union rejecting the final offer from Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac. Maybe I thought people would have learned a lesson from another union misstep in Sheboygan. There Thomas Industry found a union that did not think about the entire economic picture and moved all of the jobs to Louisiana. Now the Fondy jobs could very well be heading to Oklahoma.
Some will claim the company is being unfair. They are demanding 70-some concessions. But to say you are willing to lose 800 jobs- jobs that most likely will not come back to an old plant- because of wage freezes and cuts to new hires is ridiculous. One guy says it is a slap in the face for a laid off worker to take a pay cut after he has been with the company for 20 years. You can’t raise a family on that. Well, I have news for you. You can’t raise a family when you are living on welfare. You need the money. Suck it up and work the job until you can find a better one. If you don’t like the pay, get the skills to get a different job.
It is also a slap in the face of the workers in the offices of Mercury Marine. They have taken pay cuts in order to keep their jobs. Many people around the country in companies both big and small have had to take pay cuts or forced vacation without pay to keep their jobs. Why is it these unions won’t do the same? They could cost these people as well as many of the local suppliers their jobs. Economic conditions change but unions do not respond. It is time they take a cut to keep their jobs and their income, not for the union leaders (who I would argue don’t care about the workers as much as they care about their power and better benefits) but for their families and neighbors. The workers of Mercury Marine should wise up and consider dumping the union. I hope their union is not like many of those across the country that has not kept up on funding the pensions. That would make it even worse for these workers.
It is also the time for our governor to step up and do something about keeping jobs in the state instead of flapping his gums. The offer of better tax rates and other economic incentives could give Mercury a reason to go back to the bargaining table and work out a deal to keep people employed.
As for those who say the company is being greedy, they need to take a step into reality. Brunswick, the owner of Mercury, noted that the marine business has hit a 40 year low and their own sales dropped 27%. People are not buying engines like they were a couple years ago. Earning at this unit dropped by over $100 million. The union and its workers should be striving to find a way to keep jobs in a time when they need them more than ever. The people of Stillwater Okalahoma seem to have a grasp on the concept. Those in Fond du Lac sadly do not.