Protesters Block Traffic at O’Brien Federal Office Building Demanding Government Suspend Contracting with Honeywell Aerospace
Elected officials, labor, clergy and community leaders express support for UAW members in Green Island and South Bend who have been locked out of work for over four months
(Albany, NY) – Supporters of UAW members locked out by Honeywell Aerospace blocked traffic and rallied today at the
O’Brien Federal Office Building in Albany demanding the federal government suspend contracting with Honeywell Aerospace until the company ends the lockout and negotiates in good faith. The Green Island factory and a sister plant in South Bend, Indiana, make braking systems and wheels for commercial and military aircraft, including the Boeing 737, the Boeing B-52 and F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin F-35.
Today’s action was in direct response to the Department of Defense’s recent announcement that it was awarding Honeywell in South Bend an $18.3 million contract for the manufacture of replacement brakes for the U.S. Navy’s F/A18.
“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 UAW Region 9A. “The men and women of our military deserve to know they are flying in planes made with parts made by skilled, high-quality union labor, not the inexperienced scab labor Honeywell has employed since May 9.”
Negotiations were held last week in South Bend between the parties, with the participation of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). “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 UAW Local 1508, who was present at the negotiations in South Bend.
Numerous labor leaders spoke in support of the locked out workers. “Our federal tax dollars should not be supporting a company that puts profits before people. 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,” said Mario Cilento, President of the 2.5 million member New York State AFL-CIO. “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.”
Supporters came from across the state to support the locked out workers. “We drove up from Eastern Long Island 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 and a resident of Suffolk County.
The 42 members of United Auto Workers Local 1508 in Green Island were locked out, along with approximately 350 members of UAW Local 9 in South Bend, after both locals rejected a final offer from Honeywell which would eliminate accessible and affordable union-negotiated health care coverage, leaving the employees at the mercy of the company, eliminate their pensions, threatening the retirement income security of hundreds of families, unlawfully subcontract out union work, eliminate cost of living increases and curtail overtime pay.
Notwithstanding the union’s offer to continue to work past the expiration and continue negotiations, the company chose to lock out its skilled and experienced unionized workforce, leaving the production of vital aircraft braking systems to inexperienced and unskilled scab labor. The union’s charge that the company has illegally locked out the workers is currently being investigated by Region 3 of the National Labor Relations Board.
The UAW has offered dates for future bargaining while in South Bend and are waiting to hear from Honeywell.
Local elected officials and community leaders were also in attendance and addressed the crowd.