Another vote, union fallout & feeling used

This morning union workers started voting on Mercury Marine‘s contract proposal yet again.  It’s the third time for some, though the 2nd sanctioned vote.  Mercury Marine yesterday emphasized it is the original contract & nothing has changed.

“What this is, is a clarification of what is in the contract,” Mercury spokesman Steve Fleming said.

The contract is the same document voted on by Mercury union members on Aug. 23, he said.

“The contract being voted on this week is exactly the same, word for word, as the prior contract,” he said.

The supplement was provided as a method of further explaining what already exists in the contract.

“It was a way to say, ‘If you’re not sure what it (the contract) says, here is some information that will help you understand it,'” Fleming said. (Source: No changes made to contract proposal – FDL Reporter)

So what’s in the supplement?

That supplement talks about issues like accident and sickness pay and medical co-pays for retirees.

It also says current active employees as of August 30, 2009, will not be subject to the New Hires and Recalled Employee wage structure, even if laid off and recalled in the future. (Source: What contract will Mercury Marine workers vote on? – WBAY)

While the outcome won’t be known until Friday evening Mercury provided a brief explanation regarding the reversal of course in agreeing to another vote.

“It’s kind of like discovering there is additional evidence you didn’t know about at the end of a trial. There is additional evidence to show that employees weren’t fully informed and might have been misinformed” on the Aug. 23 vote, Fleming said.

In addition there has been fallout – local leadership is no longer involved.

Meanwhile, the chief negotiator for the union at Mercury has resigned, according to members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 1947 who said union officials at the district and regional levels had become more involved in the recent issues in Fond du Lac.

On Sunday, Lodge 1947 chief negotiator Dan Longsine said he was disappointed that results of a second vote would not count. That referendum was started late Saturday night, only two hours before a company deadline, and was later canceled.

“I put my job with the union on the line. I will be thrown out of office, so I will resign before then,” Longsine said Sunday.

Longsine could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Lodge 1947 members said he had submitted his resignation. (Source: Mercury Marine workers head back to the ballot box – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal)

Lead negotiator Dan Longsine has resigned and Local 1947 president Mark Zillges is no longer involved, said Felipe Rodriguez, a 15-year employee of Mercury Marine.

“I was down at the labor temple when I saw Dan and he personally told me he was done, ‘I am resigning today.’ That was Monday … Longsine resigned and was replaced by Rollie Chase. I heard it was personal reasons that he resigned.

“It was word of mouth that we heard Mark Zillges is out of town taking his daughter to college – that’s what I heard,” Rodriguez said.

And as can be expected folks in Stillwater are not happy with these developments and feel they were used.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Teresa Banks, a 29-year employee of MerCruiser. “ I can’t imagine anyone putting people through this. It makes me wonder how they sleep at night. One minute you’re feeling good, the next you just want to scream.

“Mercury is using us as pawns to get from the union what they wanted anyway … (Mercury) wanted to make cuts and couldn’t do that without a union vote.”

The introduction of a Stillwater relocation was but a tactic to force the union to negotiate, Banks contends. (Source: Union fallout precedes latest Mercury vote – Stillwater NewsPress)

The argument could also be made that the uncertainty facing Stillwater is unethical when considering this statement earlier in the week.

“Frankly, it would be unethical to tell Stillwater that there was a schedule and a set of conditions for negotiations and then throw it all out the window because the union in Fond du Lac chose not to allow its members to vote” in a timely fashion. (Source: Mercury says 2nd vote too late to save jobs – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal)

But at this point it’s all under the bridge since a re-vote was sanctioned.  The results and a corresponding decision will likely be known by 8 pm Friday night.

What would be ironic is if after all this the union still votes “no”.  Which isn’t out of the realm of a being real possibility.

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