Statement on continued lockout of UAW members at Honeywell
Despite UAW members making a good faith effort to return to bargaining with Honeywell, the company, through a press release issued Aug. 27, continues to show that it does not intend to end the lockout that has affected nearly 360 working men and women.
Instead of working to resolve outstanding issues, the company’s press release blames the union for the lack of bargaining sessions and attempts to bargain in the press by criticizing the UAW for rescinding two tentative agreements.
The real story is that during the last three bargaining sessions, after it locked out employees, Honeywell made clear that it is unwilling to move on health care — the issue that most divides the parties. Honeywell has insisted that it retain the right to unilaterally change or terminate medical and other benefits during the term of the collective bargaining agreement. What is really happening here is that Honeywell has repeatedly refused to end the lockout while bargaining continues.
Since the last bargaining session, the company has made no indication that it has a new proposal on any topic of negotiations. The union, meanwhile, has never turned down a request by the company to meet.
The upcoming bargaining session is, in fact, the direct result of a July 18 request the union made for access to the South Bend plant to conduct a health and safety inspection. Honeywell offered the week of Sept. 12 for the inspection. The request was made due to various issues raised by employees after attending a UAW-sponsored health and safety seminar. The concerns raised by employees led the union to rescind a tentative agreement on health and safety so it could develop new proposals to address the employees’ concerns.
The other tentative agreement the union rescinded concerned employees’ free speech rights in the workplace. The union rescinded the tentative agreement only after learning that language proposed by Honeywell violated the National Labor Relations Act.
During the last 10 weeks, the union has been in frequent communication with Honeywell and the federal mediator. It is disappointing that the company’s first action after agreeing to meet with the union the week of Sept. 12 was to issue a press release undermining the union and the bargaining process. Nevertheless, the union is hopeful that the company will come to the meetings ready to negotiate.