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Vol. 75/No. 25      July 11, 2011

(front page)
Illinois: Rally backs Steelworkers
locked out by Honeywell for 1 year
Militant/Laura Anderson
June 25 solidarity rally for workers locked out by Honeywell in Metropolis, Illinois.

METROPOLIS, Illinois—Supporters of the 230 locked-out members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7-669 rallied here June 25, marking the one-year anniversary of their fight against Honeywell.

Standing in front of a large sign that read “One Day Longer,” local president Darrell Lillie addressed the rally. “This has been a long year for us, but we know we are doing the right thing and we are proud of our struggle. We know we will win and go back in the plant to continue our fight.”

Lillie pointed to the importance of solidarity with other workers in struggle. “We have gone to demonstrations supporting public workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as Keokuk, Iowa, where workers are locked out,” he told the crowd.

The Honeywell plant is the only uranium conversion plant of its kind in the United States. The company locked out workers after the union voted down its “last, best, final offer.” The company is demanding elimination of seniority and retiree medical benefits, pension cuts, and a wage reduction of 10 percent over three years.

Honeywell brought in “replacement workers” immediately after the lockout. Incidents since then demonstrate the bosses’ disregard for the safety of workers and the surrounding community in their drive for profit.

Just three days before the rally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that Honeywell was cited for “17 serious safety violations … after its Metropolis processing plant experienced a release of hydrogen fluoride vapor.” The violations were for incidents in which there was a “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.” OSHA is proposing a $119,000 fine. The agency’s investigation was prompted by a release of hydrofluoric acid in December last year.

“Unions are under attack everywhere,” locked-out worker Rick McConnell told the Militant, saying that the paper should write about the lockout in Henry, Illinois. (See article on this page.) Rick is one of the union’s “road warriors” who travel around the country speaking to workers at other union locals to win solidarity and financial support for their struggle.

About 200 people took part in the rally. Solidarity came from USW locals in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. This included a busload of workers and USW union officials from Gary, Indiana, several of whom were active in Women of Steel.

A former striker at Vale, a Steelworkers-organized nickel processing company in Sudbury, Ontario, was among three at the rally who signed up for subscriptions to the Militant. “We didn’t win the strike,” he said. “But we were stronger for fighting.” Several locked-out Honeywell workers renewed their subscriptions and 15 participants bought copies of the paper.

Following the rally, the union sponsored a social event at its hall across from the Honeywell plant. The event was packed with supporters who were treated to a meal of pulled pork, hot dogs, and pop. Spirits were high to continue the fight.

“We came to support the locked-out workers,” said Theresa Harmon, who drove to the rally with her husband from Keokuk, Iowa. Both are locked-out members of Local 48G of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union (BCTGM). “Sometimes it’s hard, but we got to stay out one day longer,” she said. The BCTGM workers have been locked-out by Roquette America for nine months.

Invitations for “road warrior” tours can be sent to USW Local 7-669, PO Box 601, Metropolis, IL 62960. Call (618) 524-7474. Email Donations are payable to USW Local 7-669.
Related articles:
Public workers in Connecticut reject concessions
Teamsters march against lockout in Henry, Illinois
Canada postal union ends strike under gov’t back-to-work order  
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