Letter to Honeywell Workers Sparks Union Reaction
By West Kentucky Star Staff
METROPOLIS, IL - After Honeywell Metropolis sent a letter to locked out workers Wednesday detailing their previous offer, the union has accused the company of trying to pit members against their collective bargaining committee.
The company told West Kentucky Star in an email, "The letter is intended to provide information on the company’s offer prior to the expiration of the last contract, as well as to address the issues of job security and health care, which the union leadership identified as key sticking points."
But the union said in an email that the company's last proposal is no longer on the table, and, "our committee asked the membership if they would like the current proposal brought back for a vote, and we were given a clear directive to remain at the bargaining table until we reach an acceptable agreement. If anyone thinks that the union’s committee is holding this proposal from our members, they should talk to them."
The union says the negotiations are not about money, but about job security. They say the company's current proposal would allow them to lay of a union member for any number of reasons, then fill that job with a subcontractor. The union says Honeywell has systematically eliminated 80 local jobs in favor of out-of-town "unskilled subcontractors."
But the company letter signed by Plant Manager Jim Pritchett says this flexibility in hiring specialized contractors instead of full-time union members allowed them to recover from a suspension of operations in 2012-13 and $300 million dollars in losses over the last decade, so that now they are almost at a break-even point. Honeywell told employees that the union's request to hire 50 more employees - returning the workforce back to levels prior to the suspension - would add burdensome costs and make the plant uncompetitive.
The letter also spelled out the benefits of a new consumer-driven health care plan, which was in their last proposal. Union workers say the plan would increase their payroll deductions and out-of-pocket expenses dramatically.
Negotiations between the union bargaining committee and company representatives are set to resume at 10:00 am Monday.
Here is the letter from Honeywell to union members, with the union response underneath:
United Steelworker's Local 7-669 Union response:
Metropolis, IL – Honeywell said today that the company has sent letters to the homes of the members of United Steelworkers Local 7-669, the union that operates the company’s Metropolis, IL uranium conversion facility.
The letter to employees, from plant manager Jim Pritchett, highlights a company proposal that is no longer on the table from Honeywell and seeks to pit union members against the Union’s bargaining committee sighting that “the membership never even had a chance to vote on it.”
The letter is misleading to the community and media and the following should be considered:
“The union has kept the membership educated throughout the bargaining process, making all company and union proposals available for their consideration. Our committee asked the membership if they would like the current proposal brought back for a vote and we were given a clear directive, to remain at the bargaining table until we reach an acceptable agreement.If anyone thinks that the Union’s committee is holding this proposal from our members, they should talk to them. They will get the same message that they gave our committee.
“Contrary to company statements, the company's current proposal would allow them to lay of a union member for any number of reasons, then backfill that job with a subcontractor. The union's proposal is not asking the company for anything more that to fulfill the promises that were made following the 2010 lockout. In the last three years, Honeywell has systematically eliminated 80 local jobs in favor of out-of-town unskilled subcontractors that they openly admit costs them more than hiring local employees.
“There are 23 proposed contract articles and the bargaining committee has made well over 20 proposals with most of them going unanswered.”
Honeywell locked out the members of United Steelworkers Local 7-669 on August 1, 2014 despite the union’s willingness to continue to operate the Uranium Conversion facility while an agreement was met.