Wisconsin legislators, union representatives stand in solidarity with workers at Manitowoc Cranes
Madison – Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) along with Rep. Chris Sinicki (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Dave Boetcher, Government Affairs Coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Electrician Local Unions, other members of organized labor and other legislators stood side-by-side today to show their support for striking machinists at Manitowoc Cranes. The machinists have been on strike since November 14, 2011 because of efforts by Manitowoc Cranes to bust the union.
“Similar to Governor Walker’s abuse of public employee unions, the machinists are not striking over wages or health care. After 60 years of excellent service that has made Manitowoc Cranes a leader in its industry, these workers are striking because of union busting,” said Pocan. “Manitowoc Cranes is enjoying success during a down economy and shouldn’t be taking the lead of Governor Walker by mistreating employees and busting unions.”
The machinist labor contract expired on October 31st. Under the new proposed four year
contract, Manitowoc Cranes inserted language that could prevent new employees from joining the union. That contract was overwhelmingly struck down 180-2 by the machinists.
“The local union representative even said the contract could be ‘settled in two minutes’ if they struck-out the union busting provision. I applaud the machinists for taking a stand for the middleclass and to continue to fight for the rights that our forefathers fought so hard to achieve,” said Sinicki.
The strike has had additional consequences for other employees at Manitowoc Cranes. Shortly after the strike occurred, members of different unions were laid off. Worse, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development recently informed the laid off workers they are not eligible for unemployment insurance because their layoff was a result of a different union’s strike.
As another cold Wisconsin winter rolls in, families of striking workers and laid off workers alike are going without an income and that’s just wrong,” said Taylor. “In the spirit of fairness, Manitowoc Cranes should sit down and negotiate in good faith.”
This past Saturday the WI AFL-CIO led a rally showing solidarity amongst all their members in support of the machinists.
“The company is saying they want to give the workers a greater voice in the union, but the overwhelming 180-2 vote speaks for itself. The union workers have spoken with great solidarity and in that spirit, so are we,” said Boetcher, “Soon we are going to be at a point where employees are going to start having a hard time putting food on the table during the holidays," Boetcher added.
Pocan indicates he will introduce a bill changing Wisconsin unemployment law to make workers eligible for unemployment compensation if they are laid off as a result of another union’s strike.