Maytag, workers extend contract deadline

Maytag, workers extend contract deadline
Date June 02, 2004
Section(s) Local News

(AP) — Maytag Corp. assembly lines were running as normal today as company and union negotiators continued work on a new contract covering about 1,600 workers.

Last evening, the two sides agreed to extend the current pact, setting a new deadline of 10 p.m. June 9, Maytag spokeswoman Lynne Dragomier said.

“The negotiators have agreed to a contract extension,” she said. “Production and shipping are continuing as usual. All employees will be reporting to work.”

Dragomier said negotiation meetings will continue to take place over the course of the next week.

Maytag began meeting several weeks ago with bargaining officials for United Auto Workers Local 997.

Union members authorized leaders to call a strike if talks broke down. Monday’s initial midnight deadline was extended 24 hours before Tuesday’s announcement.

As recently as two weeks ago, Maytag Chairman and CEO Ralph Hake warned workers that the company faced increased pressure to cut costs to compete with a flood of cheap imports.

“Newton’s one of the highest-cost plants we have, and we need to address that,” Hake said at Maytag’s annual shareholders meeting.

He said other plants should look to the company’s contract with workers at its Hoover vacuum plant in Canton, Ohio, as a model for preserving jobs.

In that agreement, reached in December, about 1,500 workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers accepted changes in work rules and a new health plan that requires employee contributions.

In exchange, IBEW officials said, the workers took no loss of wages, pension, vacations or paid holidays. The contract also guarantees a certain number of jobs.

Daily News Editor Peter Hussmann contributed to this story.

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