Nearly 500 Trane Co. production workers in La Crosse went on strike after a rejecting a contract offer from the maker of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
Members of Lodges 21 and 1115 of District 66 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted down a contract offer Saturday as their current deal Ingersoll Rand-owned Trane was set to expire at midnight.
Neil Kamrowski, the union’s directing business representative, said that further negotiations are scheduled. Kamrowski sounded hopeful that an agreement could be reached soon but declined to discuss the timing of new negotiations or specifics about wages and benefits being discussed.
Kamrowski said 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.
According to a second-shift worker at Plant 7, who spoke on condition he not be named for fear of retaliation, workers at the Ingersoll Rand-owned La Crosse operations had qualms over both wage and benefit aspects of Trane’s offer, and workers planned to rotate picket lines among Trane’s now-idled plants.
“It’s an awesome job,” he told the Tribune, “but we have to make sure we’re getting paid fairly.”
Trane Co. was incorporated in 1913 by Reuben Trane, whose father, James Trane, established a plumbing shop in La Crosse in 1885 and invented a head system he began manufacturing with his engineer son in 1910. By the 1980s, the company employed more than 4,000 people in La Crosse and was acquired by American Standard Cos. in 1984.
American Standard changed the name back to Trane in 2007, about a year before Ingersoll Rand completed a $10 billion acquisition of the company. Trane employs almost 30,000 people worldwide and has manufacturing plants in more than two dozen countries.