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Union representing Briggs & Stratton workers rejects contract proposal

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Members of a union representing more than 350 Briggs & Stratton employees overwhelmingly rejected a contract proposal on Sunday, October 6th.

"They don't like the proposal. They feel like the company is taking away too many concessions. The members have spoken twice now and that's how they feel," USW Local 2232 President Jesse Edwards said.

The first vote came in August. Members voted the proposal down by a vote of 155 to 7. Sunday's tally was 109 to 22.

"There was improvement on language. The economic proposal, our members feel like it was the same or even worse," Edwards said.

The proposed four-year contract would give employees a one-percent raise in Year Two, and a two-percent raises in years three and four. However, union officials say frozen wages for the first year off-set any other proposed perks.

"The company's offering a $500 bonus and then $500 into a health savings account. The members want money on their paycheck every week," Edwards said.

In a statement, Briggs & Stratton said: "We are extremely disappointed in (Sunday's) vote. We have been negotiating with the Bargaining Committee in good faith and have presented a very fair and equitable offer. It is unfortunate that member turnout was even less than the last vote, and that it was held on a Sunday afternoon during a Packers game.

Edwards says the union will go back to the table to deliver the message. Its members don't like what they're seeing.

There are several other issues causing the conflict. The union is upset with a proposal to freeze the pensions of all employees. Members are also angry about the proposed elimination of job preferences -- which would happen at the end of 2016.

The proposed contract also eliminated life insurance for future retirees.

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