Some 1,000 jobs will be leaving Illinois because union members refused--twice--to approve concessions that would have kept one of the Downstate Illinois' biggest manufacturers here.
Olin Corp. earlier this month announced that it will move its Winchester Centerfire operations--a subsidiary bullet making plant--from the Metro East area of Illinois to Oxford, Miss., to "enhance the competitiveness of its operations." In plain English, that means that they're moving to a "right to work" state where labor costs will be cheaper and where the state coughed up $25 million to help build a new $100 million plant.
This one can't be blamed on pig-headed union leaders. The union representing the workers had worked out a compromise that would have guaranteed that the jobs wouldn't move for seven years in exchange for some concessions, including a wage freeze for seven years, elimination of a fifth week of vacation and end to company matches for workers' 401(k) retirement.
The leadership of the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 9, representing the workers, had worked out the agreement with the company after the membership had rejected an earlier company proposal. Some workers reportedly were upset that they were being asked to renegotiate a contract that had not yet expired. Others thought the company's plan to move to Mississippi was a bluff.
The vote to reject the agreement was 593 opposed and 470 in favor.
Any pay freeze is a tough nut to swallow; I know, having worked for Conrad Black's Sun-Times. But, as some employees said, it's better then no job at all.
I don't blame the union or the workers for the loss of jobs. Nor do I blame the company for moving to one of the 23 right-to-work states. In those states, employees have the right to decide themselves whether they will join or financially support a union. Turning Illinois into a right-to-work state would be impossible, considering the grip that organized labor has on politicians here. But, the question still remains: how do we stop this loss of jobs in Illinois? Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to raise personal and corporate income taxes a whopping percentage clearly won't help.
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