GREENVILLE, Ohio — UAW members who retired from Honeywell International Inc. before June 1, 2012 and their eligible spouses are entitled to the lifetime health care benefits the company agreed to in collective bargaining in 2003 and subsequent contracts, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
That means that instead of those benefits being terminated, as the company had planned to do at the end of February, the court issued a permanent injunction against the company doing so.
“Plaintiffs have proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Honeywell agreed to provide lifetime healthcare benefits to its retirees at the Greenville, Ohio, plant. Honeywell’s plan to terminate those benefits as of Feb. 28, 2017, therefore breaches the terms of the relevant collective bargaining agreements,” the ruling states.
“This is a hard-fought victory for our UAW Local 2413 Honeywell retirees and their families,” said UAW Region 2B Director Ken Lortz. “This judgement speaks to the strength of collective bargaining agreements and why the benefits union members negotiate protect them in cases where a company decides to change its mind after bargaining in good faith. Imagine how devastating it is for someone to retire with an understanding that they have lifetime health care benefits and then be notified that the company is threatening to take it away.”
The ruling from the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio also considered the cost caps provisions in the retirees’ favor and as evidence that the caps applied prospectively to future retirees only and only took effect after the contract expired. The fact that the parties negotiated a retirement incentive that offered retiree benefits to eligible employees to entice them to retiree further demonstrated that the intent was to establish vested lifetime benefits.
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