LATEST: Union members will strike until compromise is reached - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

LATEST: Union members will strike until compromise is reached


by Colby Robertson

MERRILL (WAOW) -- The strike at Merrill Manufacturing started at 5:30 Wednesday morning.

The two sides began negotiating in November 2009 hoping to compromise. But the union's labor agreement expired in late December and so these members have been working without a contract for more than three months.

Over half of the union's workers walk off the job and onto the picket line this morning. They say they'll be here as long as it takes to resolve the situation.

After four months of failed contract negotiations union members still don't see eye to eye with company leaders. Early Wednesday, they walked onto the picket line.

Company President Patrick Taylor says, "We've continued to go back and forth at the bargaining table and we just unfortunately have not been able to reach an acceptable agreement on both sides."

Company President Patrick Taylor says he was hoping to avoid a strike, but they need concessions from the union for the company to make it through the 21st Century marketplace. The manufacturer makes custom wire products like motor mounts and water intake screens. 

Taylor says, "We've been hit by the current economic situation. We had a drop of over 40% in revenues in 2009, sustained some significant loses and as a result in order to basically maintain survival we're looking for some wage and insurance concessions."

The union argues the packages offered are poverty level leading to its rejection of two contract offers.

The strikers wouldn't go on camera, but sent out a statement saying the workers understand the current marketplace but they can't make ends meet with poverty level wage and benefit packages.

As for a solution, the company president says it all lies in the hands of these strikers.

Taylor says, "We were trying to avoid it. We made some significant changes at the bargaining table trying to avert a strike, but they are entitled to strike."

Strikers and union members say they plan on staying out here until 10 o'clock tonight and they'll be back out here at 5:30 tomorrow morning.

They have 58 production workers and more than half have joined in the strike. The company president says the rest of the workers crossed the picket line and chose to work their shift today.

Online Reporter: Colby Robertson

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