Manitowoc Co. resumes contract talks with machinists

Manitowoc Company has resumed contract talks with striking machinists in its crane division, and the talks now include a federal mediator, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

About 200 machinists walked off the job two months ago, citing a company attempt to weaken the union. A vote on a new contract could come as early as this weekend, but union member Leon Gauthier told the Journal Sentinel that it doesn’t sound like much has changed since the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 516 overwhelmingly rejected an earlier proposal by a vote of 183-2. The biggest obstacle, according to Local 516, is a contractual provision that would allow machinists to opt out of the union.

Other union workers in the crane division, which employs 800 people, have offered moral support but remained on the job.

The crane division, which makes industrial and construction cranes, has seen its sales impacted by the economy. Manitowoc Co. has let go of other local employees due a slowdown in production.