“We were told to vacate the plant with little explanation,” said Darrell Lillie, United Steelworkers Local 7-669 president, in a union statement released by spokesperson John Paul Smith later that day.
Smith told the press that the company is classifying the work stoppage as a temporary layoff.
“Honeywell managers told our members that they must leave the plant until further notice,” said the statement. “No explanation was given at the time except that Honeywell was investigating claims of sabotage.”
Honeywell has not responded to requests for comment from the Militant.
Steelworkers at the plant fought a 14-month battle against a lockout by Honeywell, which ended Aug. 15 last year after workers voted to approve a new contract. Not one member crossed the picket line and workers were able to push back some of the company’s concession demands on seniority, wages and pensions.
“We came out of the lockout a stronger, more experienced union,” Stephen Lech, president-elect of USW 7-669, told the Militant in a phone interview that was reported in an article titled “Illinois Uranium Workers Continue Fight After Lockout,” which appeared in the May 7 issue of the paper.
In that article workers described ongoing company harassment, including random and arbitrary drug and alcohol testing and the firing of seven workers, some of whom were leaders of the struggle. The union has been fighting to get them back on the job.
“Our members have returned to work after the labor dispute with the utmost professionalism and resolve,” Lillie is quoted as saying in the May 10 union statement. “We, like everyone else, are awaiting information from the company. Production was halted two days earlier than expected for the upcoming annual shutdown without explanation.”
Honeywell Spokesman Peter Dalpe told the Southern Illinoisan May 12 that the company halted production after discovering damaged equipment. “Dalpe said … 100 salaried employees will be involved in the inspection along with 90 contractors working on site unrelated to the inspection process,” reported the paper.
“We were completely taken by surprise by this,” Lech told the Militant. “It looks a lot like the lockout in 2010, but we’re giving the company the benefit of the doubt that it is in fact a layoff. … As always, our membership will be discussing and deciding how to move forward.”
Rally backs IAM strikers at Ill. Caterpillar factory
Rally backs union drive at Mardi Gras Casino in Fla.
Lockheed workers fight for past gains ‘earned in blood’
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home