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  • Kohler Hit With First Strike In 32 Years

    The brand name giant Kohler Co. was hit with its first strike in 32 years Monday morning after unionized employees rejected a labor contract proposal from the company.

    Workers rejected the proposal during a vote Sunday. United Auto Workers Local 833 says 94 percent of members stood opposed, the main issues being wages and healthcare benefits. The company responds by saying the union may have been promising members way too much.

    “Kohler Co. is very disappointed that our final offer was not accepted by our associates and is concerned that Union officials may have misrepresented what could be achieved in a strike,” the company said in a statement obtained by Fox6. “A work stoppage like this will unfortunately cost our associates and can negatively influence our desire to grow jobs in this location.”

    Nevertheless, workers are standing their ground. Though they hope to resolve the issue quickly, yet they are preparing for a long fight if needed. The last strike was in 1983, making Monday’s the first in 32 years, reports the Milwaukee Business Journal.

    “We hope this goes through in a fast process, but we’re going to stand out here until we get the contract we need,” Dale Rabe, an employee, told the local affiliate of ABC News. “It’s equal pay for equal work.”

    The proposed contract offers unionized workers several benefits plus increased wages. The company called the contract manageable, allowing it to maintain jobs.

    “It is a fair offer for all that continues to maintain local jobs above the region’s norm, supports continued permanent job growth at our Wisconsin operations,” the company continued. “The contract proposal offered wage and benefit increases during each year of the contract, an increase of the pension multiplier for eligible associates.”

    The contract does not, though, get rid of the two tier wage system that workers have been most adamantly against. The system means some workers get more pay and bonuses than the rest of their colleagues for the same work. Workers in the first tier can expect a $1,200 bonus, while the others get $1,000.

    “There’s people in this plant making half the money that a Tier A is making versus a Tier B,” Rabe also noted. “We’d like to bring it up to the same pay and have it equal for everyone working here.”

    Kohler Co. is best known for kitchen and bathroom appliances. The company is still welcoming employees to come to work. It is also hoping to implement a plan to make sure production goes as normal.

    “The company had hoped an agreement would be in place as of today and uninterrupted work would be assured,” the company concluded. “Kohler Co. will be informing production associates that they are welcome to report to work as normal, and if they do, they will receive their current wage and benefits. The company is prepared to implement plans to ensure that all customer product and service needs are met.”

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