Locked out Honeywell workers demand withdrawal of government contract

Locked out Honeywell Aerospace workers on September 21 blocked traffic outside of a federal office building in Albany, New York to demand that the government stop supporting the lockout.

The lockout began four months ago when workers at Honeywell factories in South Bend, Indiana and Green Island, New York rejected a Honeywell contract proposal that would have eviscerated their health care plan, eliminated their pensions, reduced overtime pay, and ended cost of living raises.

Ignoring the lockout, the US Department of Defense on September 12 announced that it was awarding Honeywell an $18.3 million contract to manufacture replacement brakes for the Navy’s F/A 18 multi-role combat jet.

“We believe the government should stop giving new contracts or extending old contracts to a deplorable company that is locking out its workers and destroying good, middle-class jobs,” said Julie Kushner, director of United Autoworkers (UAW) Region 9A.

Workers at the South Bend plant are members UAW Local 9 and those at Green Island are members of Local 1508.

Members and leaders from other unions, clergy members, and community supporters demonstrated their solidarity with the locked out workers by joining them in the street outside the O’Brien Federal Office Building in Albany.

“Our federal tax dollars should not be supporting a company that puts profits before people,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO. “It is unconscionable that Honeywell Aerospace is benefiting from a multimillion dollar defense contract while locking out the dedicated men and women who possess the necessary job skills required to safely manufacture the wheel and braking systems for our military. Honeywell’s action is an outright attack on the middle class. This contract should be suspended until Honeywell acts responsibly and negotiates a fair contract with our members.”

“We drove up from Eastern Long Island (New York) and are prepared to be arrested today to make the point that taxpayer money should not be used to line the pockets of union busters like Honeywell CEO David Cote, who put profits before the safety of our men and women in uniform, and the flying public,” said Brian Schneck, president of UAW Local 259 as he prepared to join other protesters in the street.

There was some hope that Honeywell would be willing to reach a fair agreement on a new contract when the two sides resumed bargaining on September 12 and were joined by a federal mediator.

But the bargaining session adjourned after two days.

“The company arrived for bargaining with no new proposals and the ones we eventually received during the week did not move us closer to a contract,” said Tim Vogt, a 29-year Honeywell employee and president of Local 1508.

Honeywell continues to demand steep concessions from members of Local 9 and Local 1508 even though in 2015 the company reported $4.8 billion in profits and paid its CEO $25 million in salary, a bonus, and stock options.

The company has continued to operate its plants in Green Island and South Bend with replacement workers.

The UAW has charged that the Honeywell lockout is illegal, and the National Labor Relations Board  (NLRB) is investigating the charges.

In the meantime, people can show their support for the locked out workers by signing a petition addressed to Cote urging him to end the lockout.

Vogt said that Honeywell’s intransigence has wreaked havoc on workers who have made Honeywell a profitable company and its chief executive a multimillionaire.

“For me it’s devastating. Are my kids going to have a Thanksgiving this year? Are they going to have a Christmas this year? They’ve disrupted so many lives here. It’s a very, very, scary and dangerous situation that they put us all through,” said Vogt to New 10 ABC in Albany.

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