Try 1 month for 99¢
Two union workers and a retiree ...

Two Trane workers who asked that their names not be used flank a retiree who brought them food and drinks when the temperature was 85 degrees and rising at the sun-baked Losey Boulevard entrance to Trane.

Wages and forced overtime are issues in a strike at Trane, according to union members picketing Monday outside Trane’s Ward Avenue gate in La Crosse.

Members of Lodges 21 and 1115 of District 66 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers rejected a contract proposal from the maker of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment Saturday, and their previous contract at the Ingersoll Rand-owned Trane expired at midnight.

John Hampson at Trane

John Hampson, a striking electrical maintenance tech picketing outside the Ward Ave. gate to Trane, said, "It's a good job, but they've gotta pay more."

“We’re just here fighting for a livable wage,” said John Hampson, an electrical mechanical technician at the plant. Almost 500 production workers at La Crosse facilities are on strike.

“It’s a good job, but they’ve gotta pay fair,” said Hampson, who marked his second anniversary at Trane on Thursday.

Trent Gander at Trane


Trent Gander, another mechanical tech picketing with Hampson at Building 7, said, “My main issue is about forced overtime. It’s not affecting us, but it could sometime.”

Even though the forced overtime, which Hampson and Gander said amounts to six 10-hour days a week, doesn’t affect them at the moment, “We’re here to support our brothers and sisters. It makes the union stick together,” Hampson said.

Further negotiations are scheduled, union business representative Neil Kamrowski said Sunday, although he did not return a phone call Monday seeking further information.

An Ingersoll Rand spokeswoman issued a statement Monday that said, in part, “Ingersoll Rand is committed to delivering premier performance for our customers and has taken measures to ensure business continuity at the facility until our valued employees return to work. We are hopeful for a resolution.”

Lodge 21 represents 460 to 470 production and maintenance workers, while Lodge 1115 represents more than a dozen tool and die makers at Trane’s La Crosse plants, Kamrowski said.

Meanwhile, a Trane retiree who took food and drinks to several picketers at Trane’s Losey Boulevard entrance, said, “I just don’t feel like the company listens or cares anymore.”

The woman, who asked that her name not be used, and union members she said she came in support said the issue is not with supervisors and local management but rather, Ingersoll Rand.

“I have some good friends working for the company,” said the retiree, who said she worked for Trane for nearly a quarter-century. “They can’t get people to work at the company. It used to be better.”

Company and union officials didn’t address that comment, although Ingersoll Rand had a classified ad in Sunday’s Tribune seeking welders, machinists, electrical and mechanical assemblers and journeyman machinists/tool and die makers, with a $1,000 sign-on bonus.

James Trane established a plumbing shop in La Crosse in 1885 and invented a heating system he began manufacturing with his engineer son, Reuben, in 1910. Reuben incorporated Trane in 1913.

By the 1980s, the company employed more than 4,000 people in La Crosse. American Standard Cos. acquired it in 1984.

American Standard changed the name back to Trane in 2007, about a year before Ingersoll Rand bought the company for $10 billion. Trane employs almost 30,000 people worldwide and has manufacturing plants in more than two dozen countries.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Mike Tighe can be reached at mtighe@lacrossetribune, or follow him on Twitter, @necktye.



Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

(25) comments


Trane is still a good place to work. How is 18-19 dollars not livable. I know plenty of people who live off of 17 an hour. Look at Kwik trip for example. Sure you should get raises but shouldn’t that be up to your work ethic not just because you work there for so many years. Looking and knowing John Hampson he should be great full he got this job. If he thinks his wage is not livable maybe he should go back to his old job. He wouldn’t because he’s making more money than he did there. Maybe a couple less cheeseburgers and he would have a some extra cash


They need a pay raise to keep up with taxes from Tara and Kabat.


You sound like you people are scared of work. This is way people don’t like union anymore. Maybe you should just be happy you have a job.


Haha I’m a democrat if anything. But I will tell you I work to live not live to work. Honestly from what I’ve seen of most union workers the reason these guys are working 60hr a week is most likely because there not working hard enough. Few years back I did a union job that was a 3 and a half day union job and I did it in less then 8hrs. They told me I worked my self out of work? They made it sound like I shouldn’t have worked as fast an should have milked it out. That’s the problem right their with unions.


Uh huh, sure.


If any of you commenters do a bit of digging you will realize that Wisconsin is slipping to the bottom of the heap economically and people are leaving Wisconsin at a serious rate - one of the highest rates among the states. Thank you Walker - and then he brings a USER/DESTRUCTIVE company like FoxConn to finish destroying Wisconsin. Read some economic stats online and we will all be feeling used and abused. I support the strikers - but caution them to be responsible in their expectations. I have had family members work such awful hours and yes they do not have a life - no time to enjoy their families, no respite/restorative time - rush, rush, poor sleep. The investors in these companies will squeeze the workers for one more dime to defend their investment dividends and live their extravagant lifestyle on the backs of the workers.


60hr weeks is outrageous. I understand here and there but every week for years I think I’d find a different job.


Why find a different job when you can be a union member and force the company to treat you fairly?


These comments are so typical of La Crosse. This town has always been the most anti-union that I have ever worked in as well as some of really low wages that were never equal to other states wages. I'm surprised the people who have commented here don't want specific names of those striking & how many years they've worked as to whether they deem a raise or not. No one I know wants to be forced to work over time without compensation & it's no ones business how much they are making. The point is that people are dissatisfied with the working wage and conditions of that wage. From the comments made it sounds like all of you must work in a management position & are worried that Trame company might be taking a loss by giving a worker a more liveable wage.


Sounds like you have worked in different states in different unions? I have. I also know the wages in La Crosse are more than adequate for the area cost of living. Comments that are "typical of La Crosse" are from experienced workers. I'm guessing you don't travel the world or other states? My union brothers raise families, have nice cars and take vacations on these wages. Get back to work and if we wanted to be management, we could get our college degrees or masters or more.


Overtime without compensation? I don't think so!


They get compensated.


correct hourly workers must be paid time and a half for over 40. It is week after week of 60 hours to tired to do anything family, body is shot by the time your 50.

Styx 'n' Stones

The overtime was mentioned in the article as 20 hours per week, and employers have a right to require overtime... but what about the wages? What do union employees get per hour, for those who are on strike? Do they have a legitimate beef about being paid a "livable wage", or do they earn decent money already? Inquiring minds want to know...


Betcha the average striking worker is sitting around 18-19/hr. If not more. They probably wanted 22+. Meanwhile, grateful Chinese would do it for about 8-10. I could be wrong and hope I am. But in today's global climate, people need to be careful what they wish for.


18-19 an hour is less than 40 grand a year before overtime, fine when your single in your early 20's. Your not going to raise a family on that wage anymore unless your spouse makes about the same then it still will be a struggle.


Employers have a right to to require overtime? We aren't talking about the occasional shift here. My son has worked 60 hours a week for the past several years with no light at the end of the tunnel as well as being told that his vacation time must coincide with plant shutdown. He finally gave his notice this month because he his burned out from not having any time for much else in life.


I know people at other manufacturing plants have the same thing . 6 days a week at 12 hours for most of the summer no life with the family. Must use a week of your vacation on the plants decided shut down week or take no pay etc etc. They stay because with only high school degrees they can't make the money anywhere else.


Well, why do you think they were on strike?


So Tribune. How many articles will you print without telling us the wages they are currently making and the wage they are turning down. Why is it that you won't tell us the whole story? Are the strikers too embarrassed to say what the wage is? Or to give the details of the proposal? Hard to !usted sympathy for these folks without the full story.


If I were Trane, I would relocate overseas.


They already have, that is why they have went from 4000 to 500 employees.


Wonder why??...........


Your point?


That's precisely the sort of ignorant comment we've come to expect from Trumpanzees, Dbag.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thanks for reading. Subscribe or log in to continue.