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Honeywell letter raises picket-line safety issues

Staff report

Honeywell officials sent a letter to the United Steelworkers Local 7-669 Thursday alleging picket-line safety issues at the Metropolis Works Facility which the union says are baseless.

According to Peter Dalpe, Honeywell spokesman, union pickets have blocked the entrance to the plant by walking in front of vehicles as they enter and exit, endangering pickets, vehicle drivers, and the safety of those traveling on the highway in front of the facility.

In addition, Dalpe said nails were found in the tires of five vehicles after they drove past pickets on the driveway entrances to the plant. The company also reported a picket allegedly using a bullhorn to shout racial slurs at bus drivers bringing workers into the facility.

"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," Dalpe said.

During the last labor dispute at the facility, the company sought and was granted an injunction in Massac Circuit Court ordering that the union cease certain misconduct, he said.

According to John Paul Smith, USW 7-669 spokesman, "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," Smith said.

Smith said Honeywell sent the letter to the media at the same time it was given to the union in an attempt to sway public opinion.

The two sides are scheduled to resume negotiations at 10 a.m. Monday.

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