United Steel Workers union members picketing Honeywell’s Metropolis uranium-enrichment facility claim the company is spending more to lock out workers than it would cost to wrap up contract negotiations.
The union says Honeywell has spent about $50 million for replacement workers, lockout incurred overtime, added security, litigation against picketers and lost production during the lockout, which has lasted more than three months. That’s more than the $20 million the union says it would cost Honeywell to provide the health and pension benefits that are at the heart of the three-year contract currently under negotiation.
Honeywell deals with several different unions representing different segments of the Metropolis workforce. Because the uranium-enrichment work at Metropolis is critical to Honeywell’s many defense contracts, the unions targeted the facility to negotiate model contracts for all other Honeywell facilities.
Honeywell, however, dug in its heels, recognizing that each concession could have a cascading effect as they became precedents for future contract negotiations.
So even if the union’s estimates of Honeywell’s lockout costs are correct, Honeywell may see it as money well spent to stop a deluge of expensive labor contracts.