Locked-out workers from Superman’s town go to D.C.

WASHINGTON – Locked-out Steelworkers from Honeywell’s nuclear materials processing plant in Metropolis, Ill., took their dispute to the Nation’s Capital on Sept. 26, with picket lines in front of the firm’s D.C. office as well as at the offices of three heavyweight lobbying firms Honeywell hires to influence lawmakers.

Honeywell locked out 150 workers, members of USW Local 7-669, an old Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers local, on August 2. It was Honeywell’s second lockout of the local in four years. The prior 13-month struggle ended in August 2011.

The workers ordinarily man Honeywell’s uranium conversion plant in the downstate Illinois city. The key issue in the current lockout is Honeywell’s plan to contract out dozens of the unionists’ jobs. Honeywell netted $4 billion in profits last year, and is currently spending $6 million on D.C. lobbyists to get and preserve its federal government work, Local 7-669 adds.

While it has locked out the workers, Honeywell is trying to run the plant with supervisors and outside workers imported from elsewhere for the highly technical work. “Turning key pieces of work over to contractors could cause confusion and increase the likelihood of a serious accident at the facility,” the union warns.

“This week our union received a call from a contractor letting us know that while performing a wash out of the GF2 (Gaseous Fluorine) Plant at least three people contracted burns and that the wash out wasn’t being performed correctly,” the union reported on its website just before midnight on Sept. 28.

“On top of that, the contractor said that contract employees who were injured at the plant were told to say that they were injured away from the plant. This does not come as a surprise as Honeywell continues to attempt to claim that operations are going well and people are working safe.”

Members of other unions and the Metro DC Central Labor Council joined the Local 7-669 members on the picket line. Negotiations were scheduled to resume Oct. 2-3.

Photo: Support for Honeywell Workers Facebook page


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People's World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).