In an overwhelmingly affirmative decision, Honeywell workers in Geneva, Ohio, who belonged to an independent union, voted Sept. 4 to affiliate with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. The 212 new Boilermakers were formerly part of Perfection Employees Independent Union.
“The workers there were looking to affiliate with an established union for a couple of years, and we presented them with the right opportunity they were looking for at the right time,” said Boilermakers organizer Jody Mauller.
The Boilermakers’ outreach to the Perfection Employees Independent Union was part of a U.S. nationwide campaign that kicked off in May reaching independent unions that might be interested in increasing their strength and longevity through Boilermaker affiliation. The campaign included personalized introduction letters and a series of follow-up postcards inviting independent unions to learn more about the benefits of joining the Boilermaker ranks.
“They responded to the letter and postcards and seemed interested right off the bat,” Mauller said. “A few weeks later, representatives wanted to meet with us in person, and things really escalated from there.”
Workers at Honeywell make a variety of products that connect everything from the main gas line to the meters of individual homes. The independent union at Honeywell had been in place since the 1960s, before the workplace was part of the Honeywell multinational conglomerate.
“The times have really changed over so many decades, and they were ready for something more in their organized efforts,” Mauller said.
Mike DeDomenic, president of the now Boilermaker-affiliated local, said members had been asking for years for an opportunity to become part of a bigger union, and they were intrigued when the Boilermakers reached out. After initial conversations they were eager to learn more.
After navigating logistical challenges with travel, social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions, informational meetings were set on site for all three shifts of workers.
“Everyone liked what they heard, and it sounded like it would be a good fit,” said DeDomenic. “A lot of us are looking forward to the benefits offered that, as an independent union, we didn’t know about.”
The workers’ most recent contract expired March 31, and they have been working under an extension. Plans are being made to prepare for negotiations and bargain a new contract under their new Boilermaker affiliation, which went into effect Sept. 18.
“Our new Boilermaker brothers and sisters understand the potential power they have as members of a union that spans the United States and Canada and has a proven history of success dating back over 100 years,” Mauller said.