GREEN ISLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A contract dispute has left more than 40 local workers without a job.
Five weeks ago, the Honeywell Aerospace plant in Green Island locked workers out after the union rejected the latest contract offer. The workers said the contract included a health care plan that would dramatically increase out-of-pocket costs and premiums.
Ever since, they have taken turns picketing outside the plant. They were joined by a large crowd of supporters on Wednesday. Elected officials, labor groups and community leaders rallied behind the 43 workers.
Susan Brennan has worked at Honeywell for 28 years in an environment that she said carried major health risks.
“From working with asbestos, other chemicals,” she said. “When I was pregnant, I worked with a lead-based paint for five years, and they didn’t tell me until after I had the child, who did have learning disabilities.”
She said that’s a strong enough reason for Honeywell to offer better healthcare. The company countered saying it’s “the same healthcare available to nearly every other U.S. Honeywell employee.”
But the union said it won’t concede. And although the workers are collecting unemployment, Brennan – a single mother of five – has needed to ask for help.
“I did have my cousin, who came up from Florida, stay with me, so she’s helping me with my bills,” she said.
The lockout has been such a financial hardship on some families that Timothy Vogt, president of the local workers union, said they’ve started a collection.
“They can go to this pantry, and you know, if they needed peanut butter or bread, they can go to this place and shop,” he said.
But Honeywell maintains that the Green Island workers make, on average, more than $85,000 per year with benefits and overtime. And though they are not collecting their paychecks, temporary workers are.
“Not qualified, either, so it brings up a lot of questions as to the quality of the brake pads going on our airplanes,” Vogt said.
Honeywell said it will continue to bargain in good faith until an agreement is reached. Vogt said that may never happen.
“I don’t believe it is their intention to come to an agreement,” he said.
After the airplane brakes are made in Green Island, they’re sent to a plant in Indiana. Workers there place the brakes on the wheels. At that plant, 350 workers have been locked out over the same dispute.