Honeywell Inc.’s uranium conversion facility in Metropolis, Illinois has locked out nearly 150 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7-669 trying to break the union. IndustriALL Global Union gives full support to the campaign with its affiliates worldwide.
The facility converts milled uranium, known as yellowcake uranium, into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) that is used in nuclear fuel enrichment. The potentially dangerous process requires the experience and knowledge of the now locked out Steelworkers, and the irresponsible corporate decision is putting local communities at risk.
The last time, three years ago, that plant management attempted to continue production during a 14-month lock out, there were two near-miss tragedies due to mishandling of dangerous chemicals, and management was cited by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for helping replacement scab workers to cheat on exams that ultimately allowed them to operate the facility.
The previous lock out was the precursor to a three-year collective agreement, ratified by USW members on 2 August 2011. At the start of that lock out, Honeywell was intent on taking away pension benefits, the accompanying health care benefits, as well as union-protection provisions. But Local 7-669 members won the decent collective agreement that is now up for renewal.
This time around, Honeywell is going all out in an attempt to bust the union. The company proposal in bargaining with USW includes language that would allow management to systematically replace permanent, union workers with contractors. The unskilled contractors cost Honeywell more than the permanent USW workers already at the plant.
At approximately 11:45 pm August 1, Honeywell management entered the bargaining room and offered a virtually unchanged proposal, despite the union offering a comprehensive counter proposal 4 hours earlier. When the union’s negotiating committee declined to take the offer to the membership for a vote, the company notified the union that they would be locked out of the plant effective immediately.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina told Honeywell CEO Cote today in a letter:
What a message to send to your workforce and local community, that your company would rather risk a nuclear accident than bargain in good faith with their Local 7-669. This is disgraceful corporate misbehaviour and we will continue to support the USW members at Honeywell until they get a fair collective agreement they deserve.
Another round of bargaining will take place at 10 a.m. on 18 August. The job security issue is not the only company attack that management is refusing to address. The present company proposal is a cut to workers’ health care equaling a 10% cut in wages. Honeywell workers are exposed to increased radiation so justifiably propose proper safety checks.
See the full details of the bargaining committee’s proposals on the Local 7-669 website here - http://usw7-669.com/story/what-we-are-fighting