Honeywell, USW negotiations continue

Published: Aug. 2, 2014 at 11:58 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2014 at 4:02 PM CDT
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METROPOLIS, IL (KFVS) - Negotiations continue between the United Steel Workers Union and the Honeywell Uranium Conversion Plant in Metropolis.

The two sides had until 12 a.m. Aug. 2 to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. Negotiations went on late into the evening, but concluded without a deal.

"Honeywell is disappointed that USW Local 7-669 leadership allowed their contract to expire Friday [Aug. 1] without allowing its membership to vote on Honeywell's competitive and comprehensive offer for a new six-year collective bargaining agreement," said Honeywell spokesman Peter Dalpe.

Honeywell notified the workers they would be locked out effective immediately.

"The company and the union had frank and straightforward discussions with representatives from the union this morning," said Dalpe. "The two sides agreed to evaluate their positions and are now scheduled to resume bargaining for a full week starting Aug. 18."

On Aug. 22, the union said negotiations between Honeywell and United Steelworkers Local 7-669 concluded the week without an agreement.

The union remains committed to bargaining to reach a fair agreement. Honeywell locked out the union workforce earlier this month when the sides did not reach an agreement by midnight August 1st.

Dalpe says the company remains committed to bargaining in good faith and reaching a settlement. Employees will be permitted to return to work upon union ratification of a new agreement, he said.

Until a deal can be reached, Honeywell says the plant will continue to operate with salaried workers who have already been trained and qualified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the agency that licenses the facility. They will continue negotiations for a full week starting Aug. 18.

"It's unfortunate that the company wishes to put the community at risk and customer expectations in jeopardy when we are willing to continue to operate the plant while we work to reach a fair and equitable agreement," said Stephen Lech, president of the United Steelworkers Local 7-669.

Honeywell says the Union is making "unreasonable" demands. Such as a five-percent pay raise over a three year contract.

"Unfortunately, the union leadership's expectations are out of step with the reality of the challenges facing the plant and today's economy. Metropolis union workers are among the highest paid workforces in the region, and millions of Americans would gladly be compensated as the hourly Metropolis workers are," said Dalpe.

USW officials say Honeywell Management brought a proposal to the table that was "virtually unchanged" from a prior offer that was rejected. The union declined to vote on the offer.

"Contrary to company statements, the disagreement we face is not about money," said Lech. "It is simply about job security for our members."

USW workers were locked out of the plant for more than a year back in 2010.

The company spokesman says Honeywell spent more than $40 million to return the plant to operation after an unexpected 14-month shutdown started in 2012 and doesn't want the collective bargaining dispute to hurt business.

"The company has worked hard to rebuild its customer base at a time when demand for nuclear fuel is severely depressed," Dalpe said. "Customers must be assured that the company will meet their needs. For these reasons, and in support of our critical bargaining objectives, the company has decided to not allow members of the bargaining unit to return to work until an agreement on a new contract is reached."

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