A major labor agreement between U-A-W Local 9-9-7 and the Maytag Corporation in Newton will expire in three months. Maytag President and C-E-O Ralph Hake mentioned the contract during a speech this morning at an investors conference in Orlando, Florida. He calls it one of their “high cost plants” that they need to improve. Maytag laid off 170 employees Friday at the Newton laundry products plant. And today Hake said the future of the plant lies in lowering operating costs. Hake says they couldn’t lower costs at the Galesburg, Illinois, refrigeration plant, so it will be closed at the end of the year. He says they have very systematic approach to analyzing the design and cost structure of their 20 plants. He says they have a target number for the low cost producer in the world and they have a goal of getting their with all their plants. He says facilities that can’t get there are “at risk.” He says they have to solve some problems in the contract negotiations in Newton.Hake says productivity is not the issue at the Newton plant. He says it’s basically a benefits issue. Maytag will also have contract negotiations later this year with workers at the Amana refrigeration plant plant. There are about 16-hundred employees at the Newton plant and 22-hundred at Amana.
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