|Courtesy United Steelworkers Local 7-669|
|Honeywell uranium plant workers in Metropolis, Illinois, reject union-busting contract July 31.|
In June 2010 the company locked out 220 union workers. Local 7-669 members won nationwide and international support for their fight and returned to work 14 months later in August 2011, after beating back most of the bosses’ concession demands. Not one union member crossed the picket line.
The one concession the union did not beat back was the company’s demand to contract out certain jobs. Honeywell has since done this for about 85 jobs at the facility.
At a July 31 union meeting, the day before the lockout, members voted not to consider the company’s final offer and authorized a strike. About 120 of the 135 union members at the facility were present, Local 7-669 President Stephen Lech told the Militant.
“The two biggest issues in these negotiations are contracting out and health care,” he said. “Honeywell is demanding the right to contract out all but 40 jobs at the plant. On top of that they want union members to pay $8,000 more than we currently do for medical care.
“Honeywell also wants a six-year contract, a ban on distribution of union literature in the plant and at the plant gate, extension to two years of the time disciplinary actions can remain in personnel files, and lengthening of the probationary period for new employees,” said Lech. “Taken as a whole this is a union-busting contract proposal.”
In September 2010, a hydrogen explosion rocked the plant after the company started up production with replacement workers during the lockout. A second release of hydrogen fluoride used in uranium enrichment took place on Dec. 22 that year.
The union’s website prominently features a statement entitled, “We Won’t Let Honeywell Put Profits Before Worker Safety,” in which the last sentence reads, “We are the guardians of safety.”
Negotiations are scheduled to resume Aug. 18.
On the Picket Line
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