MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) – Thirty-two production workers at Merrill Manufacturing Corporation have gone on strike.
The union members began the strike yesterday after failing to reach a new contract.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers-Local 2362 and company have been negotiating a new contract through a federal mediator since November.
The union has twice rejected tentative agreements that would have averted a strike.
In a statement, the union said it would have agreed to the wage and benefit concessions that the company had asked for but that it wanted those concessions to end when the economy recovers. It claims the company rejected the offer.
“The fact that the company is unwilling to share the wealth is another sign of how greedy U.S. businesses have become,” said union directing business representative Joe McFalda.
The union also claims that the company’s offer would have forced the average worker to pay about 65 percent of their take home pay to health insurance.
Company president Patrick Taylor would not comment on contract specifics, saying he does not want to publicly bargain the case.
“We remain hopeful that the work stoppage will end soon because it is important that we continue to work together with employees to ensure that the company and community succeed during these difficult economic times,” he said.
Taylor said the company will continue operations with managers, non-striking employees and replacement workers.
The 32 striking employees represent more than half of the 58 union workers at the plant.