By Doug Cunningham
[Brian Rogers]: "Local media's not very welcoming for us. They run right out and tell Honeywell's side of the story but they don't really tell ours. So a lot of folks locally think that we're on strike.
And you have to explain to them that we're more than willin' to go back to work while we try to come to an agreement for this. So we really are trying to work with them regardless of what they say in their press releases."
That's Brian Rogers, Recording Secretary for UAW Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana. Three hundred sixteen UAW members are in day 115 of a lockout by Honeywell. They didn't go on strike. Honeywell demanded that they give up some UAW jobs to outsourcing and accept healthcare changes making it more expensive for the workers and giving Honeywell the right to change it at anytime. Honeywell also refused to participate in a UAW health and safety program to protect workers on the job. When the workers voted not to accept those terms, Honeywell locked them out.
[Brian Rogers]: "When we first walked into the negotiations back in April they walked right in and told us they were gonna sub-contract some of our work right off the bat before we even had a chance to talk about it. They were talkin' about outsourcing some of our general labor work in our tool crib stores. Those are currently our jobs. Didn't even get a chance for us to talk about it. So it was kind of a rough way to start."
The South Bend Honeywell workers have been getting support from around the country. The UAW has a new negotiation session set with Honeywell for September 14th.
[Brian Rogers]: "We're really hopin' something will be able to move. We won't really be able to tell until we sit down and see if they're willing to move on anything. The last few times that we've met with them, it's just been the same agenda."
When the UAW workers rejected Honeywell's contract offer the union agreed to keep working until an agreement was reached. But Rogers says the company had a nasty surprise in store.
[Brian Rogers]: "We reported our vote on May 7th to the company that we had rejected the contract and also informed the company that we would be willing to work while we continued to negotiate. And the company had agreed upon that as long as there was no funny business or shenanigans on our part. So we would report to work on Monday May 9th. And the company agreed to that. And then at 6 a.m. on the 9th they escorted every union member out of the building. So they weren't exactly truthful in that matter."
Rogers says the locked out UAW workers have been heartened by support he says is pouring in from around the country.
[Brian Rogers]: "The amount of support comin' from around the country is overwhelming. We've had plenty of donations, money comin' in the door. We've set up a pantry to get our members food and whatever else they need for their households to keep them running. It's a stressful time situation, so I wouldn't wish this upon anybody."