Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chamber asks for support for Mercury Marine

Article from The Journal
By Michele Charles

Chamber asks for support for Mercury Marine

The Stillwater Chamber of Commerce has circulated an e-mail asking all citizens and community leaders to generate positive buzz about keeping MerCruiser production in Stillwater by writing letters to the editor, writing letters to corporate leaders, blogging and posting positive comments on internet message boards. MerCruiser is a division of Mercury Marine, which is owned by Brunswick Corp.

The company, which builds stern drive boat motors at its Stillwater plant is considering consolidating stern drive production with their out board motor production, currently located in Fond Du Lac, Wis.

“All options of consolidation are under consideration,” Mercury Marine president Mark Schwabero told the Fond Du Lac Reporter on July 16. “including Fond du Lac operations moving to Stillwater, Stillwater operations moving to Fond du Lac or moving certain operations there and leaving others here.”

Mercury Marine is the largest employer in Fond Du Lac. The plant employed 3,000 workers at its peak and currently employs 1,900.

Stillwater’s MerCruiser plant was formerly one of the city’s largest employers. Stillwater Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Larry Brown said the Stillwater plant has employed up to 1,100 workers. Current workers number about 380.

“We consider ourselves to be a MerCruiser town,” Brown said.

Brown said Mercury Marine has its best chance for long-term economic health and viability if it consolidates in Stillwater due to Oklahoma’s lower corporate taxes and costs. He also cited Stillwater’s centralized location and proximity to quality education and training institutions as advantages.

The City of Stillwater, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, Stillwater Industrial Foundation and the State of Oklahoma have worked together to develop what Brown called “an extremely comprehensive and very competitive incentive package.” He said he couldn’t give specific details.

The Fond Du Lac Reporter quoted Mercury Marine spokesman Steve Fleming saying the company has been in discussions with both Wisconsin and Oklahoma officials.

Mercury Marine is meeting with union representative in Fond Du Lac to renegotiate a three year contract that went into effect in June 2008.

Talks will focus on wages, benefits and worker flexibility to help the company recover, Schwabero is quoted as saying.

The Stillwater plant is a non-union facility.

Brown said keeping Mercury Marine, which has a $100 million impact on the state’s economy, in Stillwater is the best thing for both the company and the community.

“Going forward, this is where they need to be,” he said.

The Chamber has created a blog to support their efforts. They ask people to post comments at

Brown said Mercury Marine officials have said they will make a decision by the end of summer, but they haven’t given a specific date.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree that Brunswick would be wise to consolidate it's operations in Stillwater. Not only because the corporate and state taxes are lower, but because wages here are also lower. I have written several e-mails to the Mercury Marine web site, expressing my dismay concerning the negotiations with the union in Fond du Lac. It seems as though the union is stalling and holding up a decision that affects so many peoples lives. The union has tried to get into the Stillwater plant on a few occassions and they have been voted down by the employees every time. The employees here don't want the union and that to me should be one of the biggest deciding factors for Brunswick. My husband has worked for Mercury for 25 years and thank God he's still there. About 4 months ago he took a pay cut and was moved from his job in machining to the assembly line. Right now he's working 48-56 hour weeks. The point I'm making is that Mercury made that decision, the employees made the decision to either accept the terms or find other employment and Mercury didn't have to spend months negotiating with the union to make it happen.