Honeywell, UAW labor union in contract dispute
South Bend union workers are now without a job while their new contract is negotiated.
Picketers are gathering outside Honeywell to voice their disapproval.
UAW local 9 members say they turned down the contract, mainly over health care benefits.
Negotiators were trying to come to an agreement for the next five years after the contract expired on May 3rd.
“Scabs get breaks?” One worker yelled.
Some unkind words as frustration grows outside the Honeywell plant in South Bend.
“It's not an actual strike, it's a lockout. We didn't walk off the jobs, we didn't create the work stoppage. They actually came to us and walked us out. Our guys were willing to continue working through the process,” UAW Local 9 president Adam Stevenson said.
That process involved Honeywell's final offer on a contract with around 340 UAW Local 9 members. But after reading the proposal, the union resoundingly rejected the deal.
“It was pretty much a moving target. They gave us all the numbers for next year, but they couldn't provide anything for the four years after that. We were looking at a five year deal,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson argues the contract could mean workers would have to pay more for health care benefits.
“They also gave us a letter on subcontracting. They wanted to subcontract some work out of the plant that could ultimately result in a loss of some jobs,” Stevenson said.
In a statement, Honeywell representatives say they presented a fair and competitive contract, but have to look at cost savings, after their largest customer Boeing, announced in March it's cutting more than 4,000 jobs. Honeywell has brought in temporary workers to continue running the plant, creating more anxiety for picketers who are made up of machinists, technicians and maintenance workers at the plant.
“We had expected to continue working with our agreement with them. Because, nobody wins here. Our customers don't win, nobody wins when we're out of the plant working,” Stevenson said.
When addressing this week's lockout, Honeywell representatives say, "We must ensure that we can continue to serve our customers reliably. For this reason... The company made the decision to not allow members of the bargaining unit to work until an agreement on a new contract is reached."
Both Honeywell representatives and UAW members say they're open to continuing negotiations.
Workers say the contract included a two percent pay raise, which they say barely keeps up with inflation, others are concerned about pension freezes and their spouses not being covered.
Negotiations could potentially take weeks or even months.
for a link to updates from UAW Local 9.
Below is the full statement from Honeywell:
"Honeywell is disappointed UAW Local 9 members rejected a competitive and comprehensive offer that would have provided wage increases over the term of the contract. In fact, our offer was similar to the one another UAW local accepted just a few weeks ago. A lot has changed in the five years since we last bargained with the union and our proposals reflect the need to address those changes to be successful in an aviation industry that, globally, has seen more than 30,000 layoffs in the last year alone, including thousands of job cuts announced by our largest customer in March. Our commitment to our customers is the foundation of our business and we must ensure that we can continue to serve our customers reliably. For this reason, and in support of our critical bargaining objectives, the company has made the difficult decision to not allow members of the bargaining unit to work until an agreement on a new contract is reached. We will operate the South Bend site with salaried personnel and an experienced, trained, temporary workforce that is focused on our customers and can do so safely and without distractions. We’ve invested more than $27 million in the South Bend facility in the last five years and increased the number of employees by 10 percent. The average total compensation, including benefits and overtime, for represented workers exceeds $80,000 per year. One out of every five members earns more than $100,000 and some earn well above $150,000. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our union-represented employees make 16 percent more than the average South Bend worker in base wages alone. We bargained with the union in good faith for more than three weeks and made an offer that was fair to employees and would help support our business. Our commitment to South Bend is 92-years strong. We remain optimistic that we can reach a new collective bargaining agreement that provides wage increases and comprehensive benefits to our employees, is consistent with the economic realities facing the industry and supports the site’s long-term future. Please go to southbend.honeywell.com/negotiations for updates. The work stoppage is not expected to have a material impact on Honeywell's financial performance or its 2016 outlook."