In late August the machinists union at the Mercury Marine plant in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin rejected a contract extension which would have frozen wages for seven years, increased the cost of employees health insurance and cut pay by 30% for new employees and employees returning from mandatory furloughs. Mercury threatened to move the plants operations to a non-union Oklahoma factory as leverage to force the rotten deal through the union, but the union stood its ground and rejected the contract.
Last Friday the union voted on the deal a third time, this time accepting Mercury’s crap deal. The workers must have bought into the “some job is better than no job” rhetoric right-wing talk radio had been throwing out since the “No” vote. Ashamed to face the unemployment line they caved to the greedy Mercury executives, who in turn screwed over their employees in Oklahoma, closing the plant that stood to benefit until Fond du Lac agreed to the concessions.
It gets worse. Mercury Marine was rewarded for their bullying and greed. Since the initial threat to move operations to Oklahoma the stock of parent company Brunswick Corp has doubled in value. The city and county have offered Mercury up to $50 million in tax breaks and incentives to keep the plant in Fond du Lac, shut down the Oklahoma plant and move some (certainly not all) of the jobs to Fond du Lac.
County supervisors and Fond du Lac City Manager Tom Herre are all hailing the vote to approve the contract as a victory for the area. The $50 million in tax breaks and incentives amounts to over $1.000 for each resident of the city. Currently Mercury employed 850 factory workers and 1,000 at its headquarters building in the city. The factory jobs were going to Oklahoma if the union did not approve the contract. The headquarters jobs were up in the air. The plant closing in Oklahoma employed 380 people, not nearly as many will be moved to Wisconsin, Mercury will consolidate positions wherever possible.
This is a raw deal for Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and Stillwater, Oklahoma. It is a raw deal for employees and taxpayers. The only beneficiaries are the executives getting rich by cutting the pay of their hard working employees. That is just plain wrong.