In the interest of safety, Honeywell has sent a letter to United Steel Workers (USW) Local 7-669 union leaders to remind them of the standards of conduct agreed to during the 2010-11 labor dispute, according to Honeywell Spokesman Peter Dalpe.
In the 2010-11 union lockout, Honeywell was granted an injunction against the union over misconduct on the picket line. “The company is again seeing some of the same behavior on the current picket line, as well as the use of racial slurs directed at the African Americans entering the site,” said Dalpe.
A letter to the Stephen Lech, USW Local 7-669union president over concerns that union picketers at its Metropolis facility have engaged in certain activity that raises serious safety concerns. Among the issues:
• At times, union picketers have blocked the entrance to the plant by walking in front of vehicles as they try to enter or leave. This endangers the picketers, drivers trying to enter or exit the plant, and the safety of those traveling on the state highway in front of the facility.
• Nails were found in the tires of five vehicles after they drove past picketers on the driveway entrances to the plant. The company found matching nails on the driveway entrances where picketers were standing. After these nails were picked up, a subsequent safety check soon afterward found new nails on these driveway entrances.
In addition to these safety-related activities, the company has received reports of a picketer using a bullhorn to shout racial slurs at bus drivers who were bringing workers into the plant. The bus drivers were African-American, as were some passengers on the bus.
Dalpe says while the company recognizes the union’s right to conduct lawful picketing in support of its bargaining demands, it believes this type of activity to be unacceptable. During the last labor dispute at the facility, the company sought and was granted an injunction in Massac County Circuit Court ordering that the union cease certain misconduct. The union was later found in contempt of that court order.
In its letter to the union president, the company is asking that union leaders remind members of the standards of conduct to which the union and company agreed as a result of that court order.
The company’s overriding priority in sending this letter is safety — safety of the plant, safety of those entering and leaving the facility and safety of the picketers themselves. The company is hopeful that union leaders will take this matter seriously, address these concerns and avoid the need for further intervention from the courts.”
“On Aug. 2 Honeywell placed our families and community in danger when they locked out the experienced union work force. Our union recognizes their legal right to lock us out while there is not an agreement. Our union however, also has the right to lawfully picket the entrances of the facility as we have exercised. We do not and have never condoned any illegal activities on the picket line or anywhere else,” said John Paul Smith, USW Local 7-669 Spokesman.
“The company has maintained that they wish to keep issues with the union at the bargaining table, yet consistently involve local media in attempts to sway public opinion,” said Smith.
Smith said the company sent the letter to the union at the same moment that it was sent to the media, along with pictures that lack reference.
“The company had the option to work with the union to resolve any issues that may have arisen but, like in bargaining, have chosen differently. We maintain that the company’s accusations are baseless and much like their attempts to distract the public away from the real issues by comparing wages and benefits on their website, this is nothing more than another attempt to try to gain support from an already untrusting community,” said Smith.