By MARK UGOLINI
— CHICAGO — In South Bend, Ind., on June 30 over 200 members of UAW Local 9, family members, and supporters protested outside the main gate of Honeywell’s aerospace plant to demand the company immediately end its imposed lock-out and other union-busting activities. The protest included supporters from Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Steelworkers and Laborers unions.
The South Bend Tribune reports: “They chanted and shouted and even sang ‘Solidarity Forever’ … to express their aggravation with being off their jobs for the past eight weeks.” The newspaper noted that picketing workers were “testy” as vans transported scabs out the plant and past their protest at the end of a shift.
The plant, located in South Bend’s west side, employs a total of 773 people and makes airplane brakes and wheels. During the lock-out, the plant continues to operate with salaried employees and scabs from Strom Engineering, a “personnel management firm” that features “Industrial Strike Staffing” as one of its primary services.
The 317 members of Local 9 were locked out on May 9 after the union’s five-year contract had expired on May 3, and members voted to reject Honeywell’s new contract offer. The company is attempting to impose a major increase in workers’ share of health-care benefit cost and severe cuts to seniority rights, including extending the new hire probationary period from 60 to 270 days. Local 9 members voted to reject the company’s new contract proposal by a 9 to 1 margin.
Since May 3, locked-out workers have been without paychecks, and due to Indiana anti-labor legislation have also been denied unemployment benefits. According to state laws, cases that involve a labor dispute (including lockouts) need to be reviewed by an administrative law judge before benefits are disbursed. In this case, the review has been pending for over eight weeks, and there is no indication that unemployment benefits will be provided any time soon.
UAW Local 9 is appealing for support from other unions and all who support union rights. Another protest is planned for July 18 at the South Bend plant. Donations and solidarity messages are welcomed and can be sent to UAW Local 9, 740 Michigan St., South Bend, IN 46601.
Photo: Locked-out Honeywell workers greet a van full of scabs as it drives through the plant gates. From South Bend Tribune.