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New Frontiers in Unionbusting


Mike Elk has an outstanding report based upon leaked documents from Honeywell workers showing the company’s unionbusting strategy–use CEO Dave Cote’s connections with President Obama as cover:

The third section, on Government Relations (GR), reveals Honeywell’s hopes that its influence with the Obama administration can be leveraged to help combat union activity. Slide 18 of the confidential document states that Honeywell (HON) should “continue to grow positive relationships with elected officials, with federal agencies, focusing on local branches.” These relationships, the document explains, “can be directed at union activity, if needed.” The plan suggests that Honeywell’s Government Relations division can be used to “break up union cohesion across the country.” A picture of President Obama speaking at a Honeywell plant is included (see above), with a caption reading “HON has great relationships with Federal officials, focus is needed at the State and local levels.”

Indeed, President Obama and Honeywell CEO Dave E. Cote have a very close relationship. Cote visited with Obama at the White House this past Wednesday to push him to cut budget spending. Cote is considered one of Obama’s closest allies in the business community. In January of 2009, Cote introduced Obama’s stimulus package in a White House speech. Cote was subsequently appointed by Obama to serve on the Deficit Commission. President Obama even flew with Cote to India while a lockout at Honeywell’s Metropolis, Ill. uranium plant was ongoing. Cote returned the favor by giving heavily to the Democratic Party. In the 2010 election cycle when the Met, Honeywell was the top corporate PAC contributor to the Democratic Party.

Union activists believe that Honeywell’s federal ties have already enabled the company to call in government help when suppressing unions. In 2009, Honeywell threatened to use Marines to replace 500 United Steelworkers members in Blount Island, Fla. if the military contractors went out on strike. Honeywell had the military security clearances pulled on several of the union leaders, leading them to lose their jobs. In 2010, I exposed evidence that Honeywell cheated on qualification tests for scab replacement workers during the lockout at its Metropolis uranium facility; during the lag between my report and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission taking action, the scab replacement workers caused a number of accidents. In 2011, International Association of Machinists Lodge 778, employed as nuclear weapons workers at Honeywell’s Kansas City, accused the Department of Energy of abandoning its legal mandate by not stepping into to stop a concessionary contract Honeywell was pushing on the union.

Cote is close enough to Obama to be widely talked about as a potential Cabinet appointee. (Warning: link is from Politico and is fully of dumbness–Michelle Rhee for Secretary of Education!) Honeywell’s record on unions is terrible and certainly I’d be deeply disappointed (though not at all surprised) if Cote was placed in the Cabinet.

The bigger lessons of course are that labor should trust no politician and that it needs to remind the president that labor got him reelected. Active unionbusters should no role in a Democratic administration.

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  • Murc

    I feel like this thread should have more comments in it than zero, but I can’t think of a response to this that doesn’t simply involve drinking.

    (This is my way of letting you know that I find these posts valuable, Erik, but that I’m often at a loss as to how to respond productively to them aside from continuing to agitate.)

  • wengler

    Informational and especially relevant due to the fact that military cuts are impending, and therefore the contractors that employ union labor will likely be looking for a way to destroy them.

  • Cody


    This is a really disturbing Union busting activity.

    1) It’s in a god damn nuclear facility, and they’re replacing them with untrained scabs

    2) A Democratic President is someone’s best weapon for union busting

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