Metropolis, IL-- Defying federal law providing such rights, Honeywell today blocked participation by a Union Representative in an active NRC inspection at the company’s Metropolis, Illinois plant.
The company refused to allow the Local Union President, chosen by the union to accompany the NRC inspection team. Federal law gives the union the absolute right to designate a “walk-around” representative. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission proceeded with the inspection with an alternate employee representative, citing that they do not have the authority to enforce the federal code that provides this right to the workers. The NRC refused to take action on the issue, questioning whether the Union President was actually a representative of the workers.
This violation of the law is identical to the February 2011 incident when Honeywell refused to allow a walk-around representative to accompany OSHA inspectors in the facility. The result was an order by a Federal Judge confirming the Union’s rights. Honeywell defied the same order and would not comply until a federal warrant was subsequently issued. With the assistance of the walk-around representative, 17 violations were uncovered and Honeywell received penalties in the amount of $119,000.00
“The presence of our Union’s top elected official is vital to the integrity of the inspection process.” Said Stephen Lech, USW 7-669 Local Union President. “NRC Inspections are announced ahead of time and focus on specific areas. Management at this facility has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to bring up any other issues that might get them cited. That’s why Congress wrote union walk-around rights into the law. Why isn’t the NRC taking the concerns of our workers seriously? It’s an uneasy feeling knowing that Federal Agency with as much responsibility as they are trusted with do not feel they have an obligation to enforce federal law.”
The Union will seek legal action against Honeywell and a complaint against the NRC was filed with the Office of the Inspector General.
The Honeywell plant converts uranium to a form used to make nuclear fuels. In 2010 the company locked out the 228 local union members for 400 days in an effort to impose drastic cuts in benefits and limit union rights, including union participation in the safety program.