Maytag labor talks hour-to-hour
 
Date June 10, 2004
Section(s) Local News
   
 
By PETER HUSSMANN

Editor

Negotiators involved in the Maytag labor talks resumed discussions this morning after working well past Wednesday’s 10 p.m. deadline.

Maytag spokesperson Lynne Dragomier said at 8:30 a.m. today that negotiations were “resuming soon” after the sides “talked a good part of the night, until the early morning.”

Dragomier said no extension of the current contract was made at this time and described the talks as hour-to-hour. Negotiators have twice extended the contract after its initial expiration date of June 1.

Maytag production workers gathered at the UAW hall in advance of last night’s deadline while workers in the plant readied equipment to be shut down.

Dragomier notified media outlets shortly after 10 p.m. that talks were “continuing as we speak” and that production workers would “remain working.” Employees on the 11 p.m. were to report as usual on Wednesday night, she said.

The union contract covers nearly 1,600 production workers and another 1,000 members currently on layoff but still covered under the contract. The union also represents nearly 2,000 retired workers.

Maytag management officials have said cost considerations at the Newton site, especially in the areas of benefits, need to be addressed in the new contract. As it stands, management officials have said, Newton is not now eligible for any new product platform launches due to identified problems in the areas of quality, cost, safety and delivery.

Employment levels at the Newton plant have fallen over the past several years. When the current contract was agreed upon three years ago, employment levels at the plant were approximately 2,300.

As Newton keeps one eye focused on labor talks concerning workers at Maytag Plant 2, the other eye watches as the recently announced restructuring plan impacts workers at its downtown corporate facility.

Employees at Maytag‘s corporate headquarters and Maytag Appliances business unit have been walked out of the facility over the past several days as part of a plan to reduce the corporation’s salaried work force by 1,100 or 20 percent. Maytag officials will not identify the number of employees let go, but some workers place the number at more than 100 to date from the Newton facility.

Under the restructuring plan announced on Friday, Maytag will close its Hoover company facility in North Canton, Ohio where 500 employees now work. The existing Hoover manufacturing operation in Ohio and the research and development operation there will remain.

The restructuring calls for 600 positions to be eliminated at corporate headquarters and Maytag Appliances, both based in Newton.

In announcing the restructuring, Maytag estimates it will save $150 million a year.

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