Mercury Marine President, Union To Meet

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) -- Mercury Marine President Mark Schwabero has agreed to meet with leaders of the union that rejected a package of wage and benefit concessions the Fond du Lac boat engine maker says it needs to keep hundreds of jobs from moving to Oklahoma, a spokesman said Monday.

Tuesday's meeting is at the request of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 1947, said Steve Fleming, a spokesman for Mercury Marine, the largest employer in the eastern Wisconsin city of Fond du Lac.

"Mark is absolutely willing to sit down and hear what they have to say, but the essence of the (proposed) contract has to remain the same," Fleming said in a telephone interview from Fond du Lac. "Nobody knows for sure what they are going to talk about."

Union leaders did not immediately return telephone messages Monday.

The union reported Sunday that its 850 members overwhelmingly voted to reject what Mercury Marine called its final offer to rework a four-year labor contract signed a year ago. The company said the offer remains valid until midnight Saturday.

City Manager Thomas Herre said Monday that local governments have offered Mercury Marine a package of financial incentives to help the company develop new products and move jobs from elsewhere to Fond du Lac. The package requires the company to remain in town for at least 12 years.

That commitment may affect how union workers look at the deal Mercury Marine is proposing, he said.

More in Labor