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Honeywell talks make rocky start

Staff report

On the day negotiations for a new contract began between Honeywell and United Steelworkers Local 7-669, the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. 

Negotiations are scheduled to run from 4-10 p.m. daily to accommodate work schedules, according to Peter Dalpe, Honeywell spokesman. The current three-year contract expires at midnight Aug. 1.

In a news release Monday morning, USW Local 7-669 announced it had filed a complaint alleging Honeywell managers violated Section 8 (a) of the National Labor Relations Act, which addresses unfair labor practices, by giving direct orders to employees at the Metropolis, Ill., plant to "remove union stickers from their person. "

The union also alleges Jim Pritchett, Honeywell Metropolis Works plant manager, later said employees would not be disciplined for wearing stickers, but "refused to have supervisors communicate to the affected employees they are allowed to do."According to Stephen Lech, USW Local 7-669 president, "This is not the way we wanted negotiations to kick off."

In response to the union's action Monday, Honeywell issued the following statement: "There is a legitimate safety concern related to mechanical and fire risks associated with the use of stickers in the workplace, and our front line supervisors at the facility took appropriate action, consistent with the site's established work rules.

"In this case, given our focus on negotiating a new, fair labor agreement for the site and our interest in focusing all our energy on the negotiations, the site leadership has decided to defer to the union's use of stickers in the workplace in this case."

Both sides pledged to bargain in good faith last week as contract negotiations neared.

In 2010,  Honeywell locked out union members for 401 days after talks failed to reach a new labor agreement. A three-year contract was approved August 2011.

Metropolis Works is the only facility in the country that converts uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride, an essential compound used to produce enriched uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants.

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