Kohler workers approve new contract; WEAC members vow to keep standing strong

KohlerStrikers_120pxAfter about a month on strike, union workers in Kohler have overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the Kohler Co. Workers returned to their jobs Thursday.

Under the agreement, employees will get wage increases in each year of the four-year contract, according to union leaders who represent about 2,000 workers at Kohler’s kitchen and bath plant in the village of the same name and at a generator factory north of Sheboygan. The workers are members of United Auto Workers Local 833.

WEAC members across the state joined together in support of the Kohler employees, and celebrated the news of a contract deal that treats workers with dignity and respect. The strike, and solidarity between private and public sector unions, is a good reminder that such cooperation is essential year-round, said WEAC Region 4 President Allison Pratt, who spearheaded efforts in that area to support UAW 833.

“We see that all workers face struggle and we are alike when it comes to promoting our love for our jobs and how our work provides for our families and builds the economy,” Pratt said. “Even though Wisconsin educators have lost the ability of collectively bargaining except for base wages, it is possible to succeed when we believe in our cause, raise our voices and keep working toward our goals.”

Regions, urbans and local associations plan to continue the support and dialog across Solidarity Roundtables. Pratt said that is more important than ever. “When we learn about the jobs of the various union groups, we discover what makes us tick and what is involved in our daily tasks,” she said. “Learning about each other creates an understanding that will enable us to fully support our collective issues and issues that are unique to each group. We will have an organized group to call upon in upcoming legislative sessions and elections.

“When employees, whatever the profession, support each other and help everyone to understand the issues we promote and stand for, we will succeed – for public education, our communities and most of all – our children,” she said.