Union workers reject proposed Briggs & Stratton contract

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Union workers at Briggs & Stratton rejected the latest proposed contract on Saturday, August 17th, calling it the worst they've ever seen.

The vote was seven YES to 155 NO for the company's offer to its union steelworkers. The overwhelming majority rejected concessions that included a large pay cut, frozen pensions, and elimination of life insurance for retirees.

"We just want a fair slice of the pie and feel like we're not being treated fair," said Jesse Edwards.

The workers' contract expired on July 31st.

Stan Quezaire, who has been with the company for 33 years, says the bargaining committee advised its members to reject Briggs & Stratton's offer.

"For me, being there as long as I'd been there, this is probably the worst contract I've seen," said Quezaire.

"Ever since '83 the union has also taken concession after concession and we stand here today facing more concessions," said Edwards.

The union says other concessions included in the contract were the elimination of job preferences, 18 mandatory Saturdays, an hourly wage decrease, year-round temporary workers, and loss of other benefits.

"They have no problem letting us know that they give bonuses out to the top-level salary people like the CEO's and the other people in the higher management," added Quezaire.

On August 15th, Briggs & Stratton reported a fourth quarter net loss of $55 million sure to sluggish sales and restructuring costs. The company released a statement saying it believes they have offered a fair and equitable contract to the union and hopes the outcome of Saturday's vote is positive.

"It's hard to predict what is going to happen," said Edwards. "The feedback is the people don't like the deal."

The two sides will go back to the bargaining tables at a later date and employees will continue to work on the old, expired contract.

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