Calling it union busting, 177 striking workers of Local 516 of the International Association of Machinists, Aerospace Workers, overwhelmingly rejected the latest four-year contract offer from Manitowoc Cranes. The vote was 140-to-37, to remain on strike, which they have been since November 15th. Scott Parr is with District 10 of IAMAW, based in Milwaukee, says the financial part of a two percent raise per year isn’t the issue. It’s two requests in the company’s latest offer that are sticking points, one of which was eliminating the union dues check off. “The other three unions (at Manitowoc Crane) have that,” says Parr. “They would not let us continue with that. That tells us it was nothing more than union busting.”
The second was to give all employees the option of remaining in the union. Parr says Manitowoc rejected their offer of giving current employees seven days after strike ratification to decide, and new hires the same seven days after a 90 day probationary period. Don Griffin, also with local 10, was asked if he was surprised by the vote. “I was kind of surprised because it’s hard to hang on financially, for eight weeks, let alone, who knows, go another four weeks.”
Gary Miller of the Local 516 committee reacts to Manitowoc Crane hiring approximately 40 replacement workers. “Look at the money they’re spending. How many thousands of dollars by bringing in these contract scabs,” he says. “Take the union busting language off. The money that they’re spending could have paid our portion of the insurance for the next four years.”
Representatives from Manitowoc Crane responded in a news release that they are disappointed with the vote. They are asking that their employees continue to talk rather than walk the picket lines, and return to their jobs. Both sides say they want to resolve this strike and would meet with a federal mediator if requested.
Brian Norton, WOMT