Kohler Co. Employees Overwhelmingly Vote to Strike
UAW Local 833 members overwhelmingly voted 'no' on accepting a contract offered by Kohler Co. Sunday morning. That means employees are now on strike.
94% of the 2,100 members of the union voted against accepting the contract, UAW Local 833 President Tim Tayloe said.
Employees - who work with everything from sinks to engines - say for the past five years they've worked under a wage freeze while continuing to pay higher healthcare costs. They said they agreed to the deal during the downturn economy.
Donald Arndt who's been an employee for 40 years adds that new workers - hired on what's called 'Tier B' - are paid around 65% of what older employees are.
"It's discrimination. Why are you paying people less to do the same job? It's discrimination," Arndt said.
"It's our time because we gave 'em five years," 23-year-employee Frank Adomavich said. "Look at the money they made in those five years. Look what they made in that time. they went from $2 billion to $4.7 billion."
"We're all going to be picketing. In fact we're all going to do it right now. We're going to send them a message right now. we're ready," Adomavich said.
Kohler Co. spokesperson Todd Weber released a statement starting on the union members decision: "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. A work stoppage like this will unfortunately cost our associates and can negatively influence our desire to grow jobs in this location."
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Tayloe says the strike will halt most manufacturing at the company and negotiations will be on-going with Kohler Co. Employees will not be paid anything during the strike but will continue to receive some healthcare benefits and unspecified assistance through the union.