Teamsters said they fear 1,000 Honeywell workers in four Twin Cities plants might be locked out when their contract expires on Jan. 31.
Labor talks between Honeywell and members of Teamsters Local 1145 have been ongoing since December. But the two sides are far from reaching a contract agreement, union members said.
Honeywell officials said they are committed to bargaining in good faith. Negotiations were to resume Tuesday. A federal mediator is expected to be involved.
"Out of respect for our employees, we made an early settlement offer to avoid going down to the wire," the company said in a statement. "We remain optimistic we can reach an agreement before contract expiration. However, if the negotiation or agreement evolves, we are prepared."
Teamsters Local 1145 rejected Honeywell's first contract proposal on Dec. 31 and members voted to authorize a strike. No strike has been called. However, union members now say they fear that they will be locked out of their workplaces should an agreement not be reached soon.
The contract now covers about 1,000 Teamsters electricians and manufacturers who work for Honeywell in Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Plymouth and Coon Rapids. The workers help make laser gyroscope guidance systems, boiler controls, air cleaning systems and "little black box" data recorders installed in aircraft.
At issue, the Teamsters said, is Honeywell's desire to eliminate health insurance benefits for all future and for some past retirees now covered under the labor contract. Honeywell also is looking to eliminate contract language that currently allows any layoffs to be executed with seniority considerations, union officials said.
Honeywell officials declined to comment on the specifics of the contract disputes, saying that they will negotiate only at the table.
Teamsters Local 1145 Treasurer Dave Hedberg said he hopes for a new and fair contract, but noted that last year Honeywell locked out union workers from factories in South Bend, Ind., and Green Island, N.Y., over similar contract disputes.
In those cases, the workers were members of the United Auto Workers but were dealing with "the same exact issues or ones very, very similar to those we are dealing with," Hedberg said. He added that Honeywell has already brought in about 200 replacement workers from an engineering firm in Eden Prairie to take over the jobs of current Honeywell employees, should the labor dispute end in a lockout.
Honeywell spokesman Scott Sayres said the issues with the UAW were "very different" than the local Teamsters issues. He declined to elaborate.
UAW workers at the South Bend plant have been locked out since May 2016 over the dispute, which also focuses on the current workers' health care plans and their pensions.
Union members in the Twin Cities said that in addition to a possible lockout, they are concerned that any potential replacement workers might not be up to the task of producing military defense and aerospace components with the same skill as longtime trained workers.
"Trying to produce highly sophisticated guidance systems for our nation's defense systems and passenger airlines with workers who are not sufficiently vetted or trained could be both costly and dangerous," said Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa in a statement.
Honeywell was founded in the Twin Cities. It merged with AlliedSignal and moved its headquarters to New Jersey in 1999. The company, however, maintains a significant presence in Minnesota. Honeywell employs more than 3,300 people in five facilities across the Twin Cities.