The International Machinists Union at Merrill Manufacturing began striking Wednesday over the lack of a new labor contract.
Company President Patrick Taylor is asking for wage and benefit concessions to weather the economic recession. The union has said it will accept the cuts, as long as the company ends them when the economy recovers. Taylor declined to comment on union claims that the company won’t agree to that deal.
For now, Taylor says production will continue with managers and possible some replacement workers. He says they don’t want to shut down, because he believes it’s irresponsible to the community.
Both sides have been negotiating for a new contract since November. The current labor agreement expired in December. Taylor says there will be a cooling off period before both sides sit down to resume talks.
Of the plant’s 58 union workers, 32 are on strike.
AUDIO: Matt Lehman reports (:36)