Honeywell retirees to fight for promised lifetime healthcare coverage
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Honeywell retirees, who at risk to lose lifetime coverage in July, held a protest in front of the Westmoor Street plant on Thursday.
The retirees said they were promised lifetime healthcare and drug prescription coverage from the corporation. However, Honeywell plans to terminate more than 4,700 Allied Signal, Bendix, and Honeywell retirees’ supplemental healthcare coverage on July 31st.
“When is enough, enough, Honeywell,” asked Tony Flora, with the AFL-CIO. “When is enough, enough.”
Flora said Thursday’s protest is the beginning of a campaign to get Honeywell to honor their lifetime healthcare coverage promise to retirees.
“If they can afford health insurance for me, for the last 50 years since I started working here in 1968,” said Tom Zmyso, a Honeywell retiree. “Now with the tax cuts they have in this country right now for the corporations, they surely can afford it now.”
Retirees claim Honeywell has made $1.7 billion in profits for 2017 and has also received $3.4 billion in federal contracts. Flora said the company is not hurting for money.
“We’re losing wages, we’re losing benefits, we’re losing jobs and they’re still going overseas,” said Zmyso.
ABC 57 News reached out to Honeywell regarding the lifetime healthcare promise, and also, the company’s plan to outsource manufacturing to a plant in Turkey. The following is the company’s response:
"The union contract in question, which included a retiree medical benefit, expired two years ago. Honeywell is in full compliance with its current labor contract with the UAW. Even though most of the company’s U.S. workforce does not have retiree medical benefits, Honeywell has continued to provide that coverage for some of its union members for the past two years as this case proceeded in the courts. The District Court recently upheld Honeywell’s position that its obligation to continue retiree medical benefits ended with the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. As a result of the judge’s ruling, Honeywell could have terminated the retirees’ health care coverage immediately, but decided instead to provide retirees with four months’ advance notice so they could investigate and enroll in alternative coverage.
"The bottom line is these UAW retirees have kept health care coverage longer than most other retired Honeywell employees – and more than two years past the expiration of the last labor contract that provided for retiree medical benefits. In addition, the vast majority of these retirees now have comparable or better coverage available to them at a lower cost through private insurance policies outside of Honeywell.
At Thursday’s protest, retirees were able to sign a petition that will be sent to both Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and President Donald Trump, asking him to take action.
“Today we’re going to begin our campaign of calling on Congresswoman Jackie Walorski to go to President Trump and say you know you can fix this,” Flora said. “Tell them they owe it to their retirees to maintain their insurance and the F-35, our nation’s most advanced military fighter, the breaks are made in this plant they should stay in south bend and not be shipped to a foreign country.”
ABC 57 News reached out to Rep. Walorski regarding the retirees’ request for lifetime healthcare.
“Hoosiers like the hardworking employees at Honeywell in South Bend play a critical role in our national security. As Congress works toward a final agreement on the annual defense policy bill, I will continue supporting efforts to ensure Indiana remains at the forefront of our military readiness.”