Honeywell, Union Workers Face Potential Labor Lockout At Twin Cites Plants
Disagreements over pension plans, health care coverage and job security could affect the employment of about 1,000 union-represented workers at four Honeywell manufacturing facilities in the Twin Cities.
Negotiations for a new five-year contract are scheduled to resume Tuesday morning between the workers and Honeywell, which is based in Morris Plains, New Jersey but was founded in Minneapolis. The current contract between both parties is set to expire at midnight on January 31.
“If we don’t reach an agreement in time, we’d either be locked out or we’d be on strike,” said Dave Hedberg, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 1145 in Blaine.
Hedberg, a 35-year veteran at Honeywell, told TCB in an interview that Honeywell’s last offer had been rejected by 89 percent of the union workers who voted at the end of December. The offer, according to the union, “proposed freezing workers’ pensions, eliminating retiree health care for both future and past retirees, and making significant changes to work rules that workers believe undermine safety, productivity and morale.”
Hedberg believes rising health care costs had pushed Honeywell to eliminate retiree health care for future retirees, as well as those who had already retired. “The company notified us that they want to pull retiree medical for 350 of our members that retired during the last contract,” he said. “And right now about 400 of our members are getting ready to retire or could retire soon under this new contract.”
The union workers from Honeywell’s Golden Valley, Plymouth, Coon Rapids and Minneapolis locations manufacture flight data recorders, radar systems, navigation systems and other components used in commercial and military aircrafts and naval vessels. Boeing, Airbus, Ratheon and Northrup Gruman are all customers of Honeywell’s aerospace division, as are the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force.
Sales of the company’s aerospace products topped $15.2 billion last year.
“We are committed to bargaining in good faith to reach a comprehensive agreement with our union-represented employees across our Twin Cities operations that is fair to employees and supports our business,” said Honeywell spokesman Scott Sayres. “Out of respect for our employees, we made an early settlement offer to avoid going down to the wire … and we remain optimistic we can reach an agreement before contract expiration.”
Workers at Honeywell’s aerospace plants in South Bend, Indiana and Green Island, New York have been under a labor lockout since May 2016 after both sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Similarly, those union-represented workers have been advocating for more health care support.
In order to keep up with demand, Honeywell has hired temporary, nonunion workers. However, Hedberg said the local Teamsters union is “cautiously optimistic” that it will reach a contract before the end of the month.
“Our members have years of training, decades of experience, and routinely work overtime to meet customer demands,” he said, “all of which will be hard to replace overnight.”