Maytag Amana plant, union start contract talks

Maytag Amana plant, union start contract talks
 
Date August 26, 2004
Section(s) Business
Brief  
 
DES MOINES (AP) — Negotiations have begun toward a new contract covering 1,530 union workers at Maytag Corp.’s Amana refrigerator plant.

“They started earlier this month,” Maytag spokeswoman Lynne Dragomier said Wednesday.

The workers at the plant in Middle Amana are represented by Local 1526 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Their current contract expires Sept. 25.

A union representative did not immediately return calls Wednesday.

Workers at the Amana plant last went on strike Sept. 23, 2001, about two months after Maytag bought the company from Goodman Global Holdings Inc. The strike ended about eight weeks later.

The resulting three-year contract boosted pay by about 10 percent and included a two-tiered wage structure that allowed the company to start new workers at lower pay.

The Amana negotiations follow a 27-day strike at Maytag‘s laundry products plant in Newton. The 1,525 workers represented by the United Auto Workers make Maytag‘s high-end washers and dryers, including the Neptune and Atlantis models.

The Newton contract requires workers to pay more for health care. It also reduced the company’s costs for retirement benefits for future workers.

Similar concessions could be sought from Amana workers as Maytag strives to cut costs.

“Is there more work to be done? Absolutely. Are we making pretty good progress? Yes,” said Ralph Hake, Maytag‘s chief executive, in a July 23 conference call with analysts. “We are a long way ahead of where we were several years ago.”

The Amana talks are occurring as Maytag winds down operation at its Galesburg, Ill., refrigeration plant. The company announced in late 2002 that the plant would close, idling 1,600 workers.

The refrigerator production is moving to Amana and a new factory in Reynosa, Mexico.

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