Newton-based appliance maker Maytag reported a loss of nearly two and a half million dollars in the first six months of the fiscal year — despite an increase in sales of just over three percent. Maytag CEO Ralph Hake says the loss was due in part to the three-week strike by union production workers in Newton.He says the direct cost of the strike was about five million dollars, and he says there were other costs that’re hard to quantify. He says as a result of the labor agreement, they expect Maytag’s expense for pension and other benefits to be reduced by about 13-million dollars on an annual basis. Hake say the new contract will help the bottom line in other ways — but it’s not the perfect contract. He says additional savings should result from operational and other benefit cost reductions related to the contract. He says though progress was made, the Newton plant remains the company’s highest cost facility. Hake says the move to restructure the company hurt the bottom line.He says restructuring charges cost nearly 28-million dollars for closing of the Galesburg refrigeration plant and to consolidate Hoover floor care, Maytag appliances and the corporate headquarters into one organization. Hake says high steel prices also hurt the company.He says they had anticipated a 10 to 15-percent increase in steel prices, but he says some steel prices doubled. Maytag’s shares had a net loss of three cents compared to a 76-cent profit one year ago.
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