Sunday, August 23, 2009

Doom And Despair, They Cried, And It's All The Unions Fault

So, the union members rejected the last contract offer from Mercury Marine.

As James Rowen points out, the right is guaranteed to blame it on the unions and on Doyle. In fact, most have them already have done so.

The thing is, Doyle has already called for both sides to sit at the bargaining table and keep working on negotiations. The union is willing to concede some points, but want a guarantee that their jobs will still be there. Management won't give it to them. In fact, I haven't heard that management, or any of the non-represented positions have given up anything of their own either.

Another thing, having gone through the anxiety and stress of a number of contract negotiations, I would be willing to bet that we don't know the whole story. The union is following fair bargaining laws and not talking about it publicly. Mercury Marine management apparently don't hold the same compunction and is blabbing, but I really doubt that they are giving the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Something else I am quite familiar with, thanks to my best bud, Scott Walker.

It also appears that Mercury Marine was ready to move anyway. They had already laid off hundreds of workers over the last several years. Now, they were just looking for a convenient excuse. So they offer a piece of crap contract, figuring that the union will reject it, and viola, instant excuse.

All that said, without knowing all the facts, I cannot say if the union members did the right thing or not, or if it even mattered what they did.

But of course, not knowing all the facts has never slowed the right wingers down before. Why should this be any different?


  1. You're not sure if the union made the right decision? You're kidding right? Over 2,000 people are losing their jobs as the result of their vote. You tell me which is better - no jobs, or jobs?

  2. The real question is if the union members were going to lose their jobs anyway, regardless of what concessions they made.

    Since it appears that Mercury's management wasn't willing to guarantee that the jobs would stay in Wisconsin, the union was put in the difficult position of trying to guess management's intent. Was management really committed to keeping Mercury here, or were they simply trying to cut expenses and maximize profits while they sent the jobs elsewhere?

    The union obviously believed the latter. Given management's negotiating position, and the history of other American corporations demanding and getting huge labor concessions then moving the jobs anyway, it seems to me that the union made a reasonable, if difficult, decision.

    Labor negotiations are just like any other legal negotiation. Both sides try to maximize their gains within the constraints of their relationship, and neither side gives anything away unless they see it as being in their long-term interest. While conservatives understand this when it comes to negotiations between two businesses, they can't seem to accept that union negotiations work on exactly the same principle.

  3. Aaron,

    Mr. Wallace is correct. The company was giving all indications that it was going to leave regardless of the outcome of the vote. If these people, and the community, were going to take the hit and lose their jobs, why let them take the benefits and wages they agreed to and that the workers earned?

    And if you are naive enough to think that the company wouldn't screw their workers over like that, look at what the local paper did to their people. The received concession after concession, and still laid off a ton of staff members. That scenario is being repeated all over the country. That is why unions are so important.

  4. Chris,

    Let's see how things turn out. When Marine meets with the union on Tuesday, we'll see if they start negotiating again. If they do, I will lose respect for Marine for their antics. If not, then I think the union misplayed their hand and hurt their cause in the process.