Honeywell union workers strike

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A dozen striking employees stood outside Honeywell’s Minneapolis plant Monday, trying to keep warm and talking about their resistance to accept a contract they fear would divide their union.
Union members rejected a contract offer Sunday, against the union negotiating committee’s recommendation, and went on strike at midnight.
More than 2,500 maintenance and production employees are on strike, and hundreds of them showed up at Twin Cities plants Monday carrying picket signs and wearing heavy coats and boots to face temperatures in the 20s.
Union negotiator Genaro Ayalla blamed the rejection on a proposed two-tier benefits structure. He said that under the proposal, future company employees would have less advantageous pension and health benefits than present employees.
“They want to pay the new people a dollar less for doing the same work. It sounds like it should be illegal,” Tim Stanoch, a tool maker, said Monday.
Tool maker Jerry Shores said his son applied to Honeywell last week and would come in under the new contract.
“Now I can’t recommend that any of my family work at Honeywell,” he said.
Honeywell spokeswoman Melissa Young said the strike primarily would affect production and operations at seven plants and offices in the Twin Cities area, including the company’s headquarters in Minneapolis.
Most affected would be three production plants — in Minneapolis, Golden Valley and Coon Rapids, she said.
Honeywell’s 4,700 salaried employees in the Twin Cities were to report to work as usual Monday. But strikers at the Minneapolis plant blocked vehicles from entering, asking drivers to leave and honor the picket line.
Most did. Employees who couldn’t get in were told to go home, Honeywell said.
In Golden Valley, some employees parked elsewhere and walked across picket lines.
The company planned to ask for an injunction Monday to limit the number of pickets. But Young said the company didn’t expect any violence.
The last strike at Honeywell over contract negotiations happened in February 1967 and lasted 11 days.
The company’s offer for a 14 percent raise over four years — 4 percent in each of the first two years and 3 percent in the latter two — was rejected by 58 percent of the workers.
Jim Holte, president of the local, said Monday he was not surprised that members rejected the committee’s recommendation.
“Workers at Honeywell have been working a lot of overtime,” Holte said. “And there have been record earnings from the company, that sort of thing …. Members looked at it and decided it wasn’t enough.”
The company reported last month that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 16 percent to $178.1 million. Earnings for the year were up 17 percent at $471 million.
A majority of the Teamsters make between $12 and $15 an hour, but some of the more skilled members make about $20 an hour.
Martin Knoblowitz, an analyst with S&P Rating Services in New York, said Monday that a short-term strike likely would not have a significant financial impact on the company.