MADISON, Wis. — In the midst of the holiday season, another historic battle is being waged in Wisconsin over workers’ rights. Nearly 200 workers of Machinists Local 516 at Manitowoc Crane have been on strike since November 15 over last-minute provisions management is trying to force on the union.
“Nine months after Walker stripped hundreds of thousands of public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights, a coordinated effort has begun in the private sector,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Walker’s deep-pocketed corporate elves at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce are now urging corporations to enact Walker’s policies on their workers, even at their own economic peril.”
Given Wisconsin’s job losing economy under Scott Walker, including the nearly 30,000 jobs lost since this summer, one might assume that times are tight at Manitowoc Crane and this is a battle over wages and benefits. The issue is Manitowoc Crane’s effort to strip workers of their rights to organize and collectively bargain, and not about wages and benefits.
Glen Tellock, CEO of Manitowoc Crane’s parent corporation, Manitowoc Company, sits on Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce’s board of directors, as did his predecessor Terry Growcock. Combined the two CEOs and their spouses have contributed over $27,000 to conservative candidates.
“By all rights the Machinists at Manitowoc Crane should be back at work,” said Ross. “Union leadership has clearly stated that they are ready to agree to the financial package offered at the bargaining table, but stripping worker’s rights is apparently the higher priority for the CEO.”
Most disturbing is that management looks to be ready to settle in for a long fight to get their way, despite the cost to workers and the community. Reports of Tellock’s compensation as CEO of Manitowoc Crane have put his salary in the range of $5 million annually. [In These Times, 12/9/11]
“We knew we’d see Walker’s mean-spirited attacks on workers dribble down to the private sector, but who knew that it would happen right in time for Christmas?” said Ross. “Then again, given Manitowoc Company’s ties to WMC and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the workers, their families and community could have expected little more than the fat lump of coal they got.”
More information about WMC can be found at One Wisconsin Now’s corporate accountability website www.WMCWatch.org.