Today marked the 99th day 41 workers were locked out of their jobs at Honeywell Aerospace in Green Island after they refused to accept dramatic increases to their health care costs and the elimination of their pensions. There was support and solidarity present at a noon picket line rally outside the Honeywell building.
The striking Green Island workers are members of United Auto Workers Local 1508. They produce braking systems and wheels for commercial and military aircraft. They've been replaced by strikebreakers hired to keep the factory running. Reverend Emily McNeil is acting director of the New York State Labor-Religion coalition: "We're here today for a #moralmonday rally in support of the workers who've been locked out from the Honeywell Aerospace plant here in Green Island since the beginning of May. And they've been locked out because they decided to reject an offer of a new contract that would have eliminated their pensions and really drastically increased their health care costs. And once they asked to keep negotiating, the company locked them out."
Tim Vogt has been at Honeywell for nearly three decades. He is president of United Auto Workers Local 1508. "Honeywell has taken years, decades of collective bargaining and put a red strike through it, and just want their own policy, their own language. They're taking away everything from us. Retiree health care, they're taking away pensions, they're taking away cost of living allowances, sub-benefits, no more personal days and not enough of a wage increase, 2.5 percent wage increase for three of the five years. That's not nearly enough to help us."
Mark Emanation of the Capital District Area Labor Council addressed the crowd: "Honeywell also is the people that have poisoned the families up in Hoosick Falls. 30 years of polluting with PFOA in Hoosick Falls, and how many years did they worked with asbestos here and have these workers with asbestos and now saying 'we're not gonna have survivor benefits, we're not gonna pay health care for pensioners,' after all those things. Honeywell doesn't pay taxes. In fact, we give tax subsidies to Honeywell, and the amount of money that Honeywell has, that they save on the taxes, they put into SuperPACs to buy elected officials and politicians where they put in their pockets like nickels and dimes."
Honeywell did not respond to requests for comment. The faith, union and community leaders in attendance say they want one simple thing: that Honeywell end the lockout and negotiate. A company spokesman told the Troy Record in June that the last contract offer was a responsible one for the employees to take.
UPDATE: Honeywell did provide a statement:
“We continue to bargain in good faith and will resume negotiations whenever the union is ready to do so.
“We’ve had three days of bargaining – all initiated by the company – since the prior contract expired on May 3. The company also invited a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to facilitate discussions. The union would not allow the federal mediator to join the negotiations in the first session and only allowed the mediator to participate in some of the discussions during the second round. The union has made exactly one counterproposal in those sessions. At the end of the last session, the union committed to get back to us when it was ready to negotiate. We have not heard from the union about negotiations since.
“We offer good jobs with good pay and benefits in the Green Island area. Our last, best, final offer includes pay raises over the term of the contract, including one in 2016. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our union-represented employees make 27 percent more than the average Green Island worker in base wages alone. The average total compensation, including benefits and overtime, for Green Island represented workers exceeds $85,000 per year. One out of every three members earns more than $90,000.
“We’re also offering the same healthcare available to nearly every other Honeywell employee in the U.S. For the last five years, the union has been insulated from the incremental healthcare increases all Honeywell employees – and most Americans- have faced. This is the same healthcare the UAW agreed to for another local in March.
“Again, the company remains ready to negotiate whenever the union is willing to do so.”