Interesting twist or nothing meaningful?

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In what can only be described as a surprise move, Mercury Marine issued the following statement tonight:

In light of the uncertainty surrounding the voting by Mercury employees on the company’s “best and final” offer made earlier to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Mercury and the IAM Midwest Territory have agreed to meet to bring clarity to the communications regarding the unchanged “best and final” proposal.  (Source: Mercury Marine and union will talk – WFRV)

The move occurs after voting ended abruptly this afternoon.

Voting ended abruptly by order of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Midwest Office.

In spite of delivering a vote on a proposed labor contract by the midnight deadline Saturday night, union workers were prompted by local union leaders to continue voting throughout the weekend and into Monday.

“We were planning on presenting the outcome to Mercury hoping they would have a change of heart,” said union worker Fred Toth Jr. “The (Midwest) union resisted the second effort for a vote, not the company.”

It also sounds as though it was upper levels of union leadership, that is to blame for the fiasco.

On Monday afternoon, Toth blamed IAM Midwest union leadership for letting the entire local membership down.

“The company allowed us out of work to begin circulating the petition. We got nothing but trouble from the union leadership who threatened to have us fired or walked out of the plant,” Toth said. “The whole thing – letting us vote with only two hours to the deadline was a ploy for the union leaders to save face. Everyone knew there was a midnight deadline. This wasn’t a game to us.”

Toth said local union official Mark Zillges and chief union negotiator Dan Longsine worked hard to get a deal done so workers could vote again.

“It was their superiors above them, including Russell Krings (business representative for the IAMAW), that failed to help us at all,” said Toth. “They even led us to believe there were bylaws preventing us from voting on the same contract.”

Here’s Mercury’s take on situation.

Fleming agrees that time constraints weren’t the only issue, adding that the IAM leadership’s reluctance to allow the membership to vote in a timely manner before the deadline was a relevant factor.

“We realize why the employees want to take action to save their jobs, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that time was the problem here,” Fleming said. “Union members asked for an opportunity to vote and the union wouldn’t let them. And when they gave its approval for a second vote that requires many hours to accomplish it was two hours before the deadline.”

Fleming believes the confusion over a second vote resulted when union leadership moved up the vote a week prior to the Aug. 29 deadline. The company repeatedly told union officials and union workers that the proposal was the “best and final offer.”

“We had initially asked for one vote to tell us their answer, which I think would have made it clearer to employees that there would be no second vote,” Fleming said. “And then (union leaders) stopped its membership from voting after that. And now Mercury is being stuck with this no matter what the union did. And why won’t Mercury change its plans, schedules and agreements.”

As for rumors being circulated regarding a decision having been made before the intial vote.

Fleming said the rumors that Mercury Marine had planned to move its operations to Stillwater, Okla., regardless of the outcome of the vote are untrue.

“We’ve said over and over prior to and during negotiations that not one decision had been made yet and that’s the absolute truth,” Fleming said.

For those hoping that a belated “yes” vote would change the decision to move manufacturing to Oklahoma, don’t bet on it.

Even if the union leadership had delivered a “yes” vote to the company this week, Fleming said it was “highly unlikely” that the company would accept the belated union vote after the deadline.

Same goes for the meeting referred to in the statement released tonight.

“We’re talking,” Mercury communications director Steve Fleming said Monday night.

He declined to elaborate on the significance of the situation but indicated that “talking” did not mean negotiating at the bargaining table. (Source: Mercury Marine, union seek clarity on 2nd vote – Green Bay Press-Gazette)

Still sounds like game, set, match.  Manufacturing jobs going to Stillwater courtesy of the union vote on August 23rd.

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