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Class War For Idiots / Dispatch / June 1, 2012

This article is cross-posted from In These Times

For the last two years, I have covered union busting efforts by Honeywell, their close connections to President Obama and how federal agencies have assisted Honeywell in three different labor struggles since Obama came to power.  In particular, I covered a 14-month lockout at Honeywell uranium plant in Metropolis, Illinois, where Honeywell cheated on tests for replacement workers, who later caused several releases of radioactive gas into the atmosphere. Instead of their picket line with the striking workers as he promised to do during his campaign, Obama decided to fly with top Democratic donor and Honeywell CEO David Cote to India while the lockout was still going on. (Today, Obama and Cote will appear at Honeywell’s Minneapolis facility for an event on the economy).

Recently, on May 10, at around 2 p.m., managers walked into Honeywell’s uranium conversion plant in Metropolis, Ill., and told workers—both union and nonunion—they had to leave the plant immediately. Multiple workers present say a manager told them the sudden dismissal was because the company had to investigate “sabotage” of plant equipment. Honeywell has since allowed non-union contractors and salaried employees and managers back into the plant to operate it as the company’s investigation continues, but still hasn’t allowed the full unionized workforce to return.

Then on May 14, according to United Steelworkers Local 7-669 President Stephen Lech, an engineer—manning a post typically manned by a union employee—caused a release of highly toxic radioactive UF6 gas for over seven minutes. Contrary to company policy, no alarms were sounded informing the community of the release of this deadly gas. Fortunately, no one was hurt by the accidental release of UF6 gas. Yet another leak of the same gas occurred at the Metropolis plant yesterday, although again it appears that workers fortunately escaped serious injury.

I had attempted to get Honeywell to comment on the matter, but as the company has done throughout the two years I have covered their union-busting, they refused to answer the question. Earlier in May, Plant Manager Larry Smith hung up the phone on me when I contacted him.  So when I heard Honeywell CEO Dave Cote would be talking at a forum on “Revitalizing America: Encouraging Entrepreneurship,” hosted by Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), I decided to go ask him a few questions about Honeywell’s various labor disputes.

Yesterday morning, I showed up at the event in the basement of the U.S. Capitol Building’s Visitor Center where Cote was speaking. I identified myself as a reporter for In These Times and gave my card to a Republican House staffer, who then handed me a media badge for the event.  It was one of the most bizarre events I have ever covered, as if those secret meetings between congressman and CEOs that union guys always talk about actually existed.

The assembly included lobbyists, corporate executes and GOP congressmen, talking about how they were going to push for deregulation and lower taxes. Even Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.) showed up to brag about how he was working with the Heritage Foundation to find ways to lower corporate taxes. Clarke was met with wild applause from the suit-clad room.

Cote spoke for about 15 minutes on how he was able to make Honeywell a successful company through “innovation,” and said he could make it more successful if corporate taxes were lowered even further. When it was time for questions for the panelists, I stood up and was called upon. I began to ask Cote about the uranium release caused by a non-union engineer working a job performed by a union worker. Cote began to frown and looked annoyed with my question. Immediately, I started getting dirty stares and smirks from the room of assembled corporate lobbyists and allies. The moderator of the panel interrupted me to say “Sir if I can interrupt. This is to hear from entrepreneurs”.

Within a few seconds, Nicolas D. Muzin, a senior adviser for Rep. Scott, grabbed me and attempted to physically remove me from the room. I informed Muzin that I had never been treated like this as a reporter.

Later, Rep. Scott, who is the sponsor of a bill to deny food stamps to the families of workers on strike, very politely took me aside in the hallway. Rep. Scott explained that after the panel there would be some time where I could ask the panelists some questions. After the panel ended, I went up to Cote and told him “I want to talk you about Metropolis, Illinois.” Cote immediately ran out a fire exit with an entourage of people following him. An unidentified man who was with Cote blocked the fire exit and shoved me as I attempted to walk through it. I informed him that this was an illegal to block a fire exit like this.

I saw another fire exit that was nearby and ran through it to find Honeywell CEO David Cote in a room behind the set of doors. Upon seeing me, Cote and his entourage immediately began to run away and quickly exited through another set of doors. I attempted to follow Cote through that set of doors, but was blocked by the same unidentified man and another man, whose nametag identified him as Honeywell External Communications Director Rob Ferris.

Ferris barricaded me in the room for several minutes and atferwards had the Capitol Police detain me. They released me after 10 minutes when they realized I had done nothing more than try to follow a CEO down a hallway. Indeed, Capitol Police asked me if I wanted to press charges against Ferris for false imprisonment for barricading me into the room, but I declined.

President Obama is doing an event with Honeywell CEO Dave Cote today in Minneapolis if any reporters want to ask about this incident. A better question might be why has Honeywell been able to use the federal government to attempt to bust unions in three different major labor disputes. Either way, try to make sure you’re in a room with multiple exits.

Editor’s note: After siccing his goons on Mike Elk, Dave Cote met President Obama in Minneapolis, where the two bold leaders toured a Honeywell factory and laughed at the workers.

“Tell me again how much do you get paid? Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

Seal of the President of the United States sponsored by Honeywell International…

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34 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. bob  |  June 1st, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Organized labor has more hoops to jump through than any corporation. The way that their behavior is micro-managed by the law is proof of the sellout.

    We have to fill out how many forms, and have how many body cavity searches in order to talk about work? Freedom of assembly…

    Then, in the same breath, the corps are citizens.

    It’s a real disadvantage to have to wear this meat suit around.

    Good report…I would have pressed charges. You know they would have if they could have When they get the opportunity, having a charge like that on the record, in DC, can save you a ton of hassle with other police.

  • 2. Galtic Warrior  |  June 2nd, 2012 at 12:35 am

    ……….And? He was trying to be inflammatory for the sake of attention. Plenty of journalists, left AND right, do this to boost their profile. He clearly had an agenda going in, and that is NEVER a good thing. Journalists should be unbiased, supplanted by FACTS, and no emotion. You can see this with teacher unions, the facts say that they are worthless scum preventing children from acheving high test scores, therefore interfering with their ability to enter the market and claw their way to the top.

    He was clearly not wanted, overstated his welcome, and reacted physically to requests to leave. You can see it in the video, he reacts violently to someone trying to escort him out. I don’t care if you’re leftist, you shouldn’t support violence.

    You see, his presence interfered with the artisans of creation. Elk was like that kid in class that tried too hard to outsmart the teacher.

    As they say, fascism takes seethibng hatred from plainly heartless demons and funnels it hatred purely innocent victims.

    THE GALTIC WARRIOR APPLIED FOR AND HAS BEEN GRANTED A SPECIAL AEC TROLL IMPROVEMENT EXEMPTION PASS. APPLY FOR YOURS TODAY. PROCESSING FEE IS ONLY $1,250. PASS MUST BE RENEWED QUARTERLY.

  • 3. Ozinator  |  June 2nd, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I saw the video over at huffington and many of the comments pointed to the incident as proof that we should vote for Obama. I would like to think those people are paid to say stupid things like but I know better…we are so fucked

    @2
    good stuff! “claw their way to the top” hehehe

  • 4. G.G. Allin  |  June 2nd, 2012 at 7:17 am

    @2. Elk was trying to get this fucking scumbag C.E.O. to account for his actions, which is what I think journalists ought to do. Who gives a shit whether they wanted him there or not?

  • 5. jonnym  |  June 2nd, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I can’t wait to see what the AEC does with comment #2

  • 6. adam  |  June 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Sometimes, in lieu of getting a real response to a real question, the best a journalist can do is shove a nasty bug up power’s ass.

    At the very least, you showed Cote for the coward he is. All his money, power and influence are nothing in the face of an honest question.

    Thank you, Mike Elk, for introducing a few seconds of reality into the lives of these smug assholes.

  • 7. Fissile  |  June 2nd, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Ah yes, Honeywell, one of those “socially responsible” mega-kleptorations.

    A few years ago I had a new furnace installed in our house. The furnace came equipped with a Honeywell brand vent damper. The damper was warranted for 1 year from date of purchase. This damper failed 1

  • 8. Fissile  |  June 2nd, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Ah yes, Honeywell, one of those “socially responsible” mega-kleptorations.

    A few years ago I had a new furnace installed in our house. The furnace came equipped with a Honeywell brand vent damper. The damper was warranted for 1 year from date of purchase. This damper failed 1 week after the warranty expired.

    I called Honeywell warranty number and spoke to one of their customer service reps. The service rep promptly informed me that the part was out of warranty. I attempted to explain to the customer rep that the part failed 1 week after the warranty expired. The customer service rep hung up on me in mid sentence.

    It’s good to know that the attitudes of Honeywell executives “trickles down” to even their lowliest customer service reps.

  • 9. Anarchy Pony  |  June 3rd, 2012 at 1:35 am

    This galtic warrior guy is hilarious. Troll or Parody? You decide!

  • 10. TB003  |  June 3rd, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Way to go, Mike. Even if the victory was symbolic, at least you managed to shame the corporatist fucks for a moment.

  • 11. DeeboCools  |  June 3rd, 2012 at 9:09 am

    “Freedom of the press” at it’s best. How Mike Elk had to chase Cote through a series of fire escapes… it’s like something out of a cartoon. At least you didn’t get jailed and get scabies like Yasha Levine in Hell-A. Next time, press charges.

  • 12. nestore  |  June 3rd, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    “Capitol Police asked me if I wanted to press charges against Ferris for false imprisonment for barricading me into the room, but I declined.”

    can i ask you why?

  • 13. nestore  |  June 3rd, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    “Galtic warrior” …GOD that is sooooo queer

  • 14. nestore  |  June 3rd, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    This is the scum that get to make the rules because they pay for it. Dosent matter that its stolen money..every one of these worms—– “galtic” cowards watch them run, sneak, pratically pee their pants rather than tell the truth one-fucking-time—- and their sychophantic politicians have thier hand out. “Galt”??? LOL…the truth is, if the “galt” ever did “shrug”, the actual human population would INSTANTLY pick up the slack and the world would start running better, for about 15 minutes, until one of the 10 million ethically deformed, galtic moral-quasimodos started TRIPPING over each other to take the place of thier vacationing, fellow worthless sack of dung.

  • 15. Dimitri Ratz  |  June 3rd, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    In Japan they were saying radioactive fallout is good for you in small amounts. Well at least until the tsunami, and all hell broke loose.

  • 16. gatorade  |  June 4th, 2012 at 6:50 am

    Organized labor is in trouble, supporting democrats by default has done fuck all, and republicans would be happy if everyone was making a dollar a day and could be legally bought and sold. The only way to get anything done is to go around the established parties and system

  • 17. Galtic Fairie  |  June 4th, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Can you guys please lay off the CEOs? They have feelings too! God, you guys are such meanies!

  • 18. Fischbyne  |  June 4th, 2012 at 9:17 am

    It sounds stressful, to be sure, but the question from #12 begs for an answer.

  • 19. DrunktankDan  |  June 4th, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Good shit Elk. I’ve been following your career for a while now.
    As a former union member with two siblings still in unions its nice to know that there are still old school journalists covering our stuff. The most I ever saw of the media covering ours was the occasional 5 minute interview with the boss. Nobody ever talks to workers anymore. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

  • 20. smileman  |  June 4th, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    find the update about sephardic jews paired with the photo of yishai racially insensitive. i mean I don’t i’m actually lying because yishai is so racially fascistic himself, and because ames, a sephard, wrote it–but i’m going to pretend that i’m offended and see what you say.

    pls reply

  • 21. helplesscase  |  June 4th, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Go Mike! “Honeywell CEO involved in fire escape foot-chase with rabble-rousing proletarian.”

  • 22. CensusLouie  |  June 4th, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    The whole fire escape thing reminds me of the exact same scenes from that Bob Roberts movie, the 1992 mockumentary flick where Tim Robbins plays an ultra fascist Republican senate candidate. Not the best movie, but fairly dead on about those types of tin pots and their supporters.

  • 23. CensusLouie  |  June 5th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    BREAKING NEWS

    Shitheel teabaggers and super PACs win out, Walker remains governor of Wisconsin.

    SILVER LINING

    Walmart and other large companies drop their support of ALEC after their “Stand Your Ground” legislation gets bad press in the Trayvon Martin case. Sadly, whoever said that the Occupy movement needs martyrs was exactly right.

  • 24. smileman  |  June 5th, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    i am not sure, mr. ames, that i can handle the fact that you wrote something that hurt my retarded feelers.
    pls reply

  • 25. Mularski  |  June 5th, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    http://www.prdaily.com/Uploads/Public/Honeywell-PR-video-grabs.jpg

    lower right frame should be elk’s new twitter photo. badass.

  • 26. Ozinator  |  June 6th, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Hey EXILED,

    Have you looked at the site that you linked for Elks pressing charges? I was amazed at the responses ignoring the story and talking about reporting etiquette instead. Then I realized it was site dedicated to public relations. I’ll see if they kept my response but head on over!

  • 27. DrunktankDan  |  June 6th, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Fuck yeah! Mike is filing criminal charges! This could get very interesting. . .as in “national headline” interesting. If only it happened at the early peak of Occupy.

    Anyways, here is the source:

    http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/11831.aspx

  • 28. DrunktankDan  |  June 6th, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Oh goddamnit! Other people found it first. I guess the KNOW column would probably be the best place to look.

    The good news is that you can google news search for Mike Elk and that story actually does appear somewhere on the first couple of pages. What the fuck is PR daily, by the way?

  • 29. DrunktankDan  |  June 6th, 2012 at 10:55 am

    If only they had kept the cameras running while Mike continued to argue with that Koch Lackey! I’m surprised he didn’t just shank the guy, stare directly into the camera and declare “That was for my country, America, land that I love”

    Whoa, did I just get a boner?

  • 30. smileman  |  June 6th, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    @24, AEC

    really enjoyed that. almost spit coffee all over.

    i bet it hurt Glenn Greenwald’s feelers a little when you gave him a whoopin about how he took undisclosed money from the Cato Institute while shilling for the Kochs and attacking you–it was hilarious how Glenn hid after being confronted with the Cato promo material announcing Glenn Greenwald as one of the featured speakers at the elite Cato “Benefit Sponsors” event. Wonder how much Glenn was paid to entertain the rightwing oligarchy in Florida?

  • 31. rehmat1  |  June 7th, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    yes it has happened to me before

    every day in your comments section, where to i keep coming back because i like my feelers to be hurted

  • 32. Dimitri Ratz  |  June 9th, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Glad to hear Mike pressed charges. Maybe the working class will rise above the peasant status of being shoved and used as cheap discarded sex toys by the rich. Probably not….

  • 33. Dimitri Ratz  |  June 9th, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Side point. The article that reported on reporter pressing charges did miss a big point. Its not that the issue got more attention, because of the illegal imprisonment and bit of physical violence, literally pulling the mic that somehow did a disservice to the company. This is exactly like the assault on women marchers at the Tahrir square. Basic message is if you think you can talk back, they’ll go out of their way to grope you, hit you in the chest, then deform it by pinching and twisting knowing you don’t have the money to get the work done to get it ever fixed. The organized attack on well secured young women in Egypt, or the public conference at home doesn’t change the fact if the fox is Harding the chickens Mikes charges will just go away. He got bitch slapped, because his a bitch, a nobody, and his place is like the Tahrir women. That’s the company’s clear point, and the article totally misses it.

  • 34. Wyatt Errp  |  December 9th, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Mike was just after the truth, but Cote, the fuckin Asshole, is a unAmerican scumbag that sucks on Obama for protection and both are as crooked as a Dog’s Hind leg.
    I worked for Honeywell/Fram in Greenville, Ohio. This cote turd makes 55 million a year and benefits, but had is hetchmen and the UAW conned long ago thinking they will move the plant to bust union and having the workers take concessions which they voted on to do, simply to hold their jobs there. Now, Honeywell is trying to get out from paying my retirement health insurance that was promised in our union agreement but they are denying me because of some drummed up bullshit. They say I violated the union agreement but this is bullshit, I have talked with Brian Marcotte and Lisa Dooley, Honeywell VP and corp. attorney thru my attorney . They want me to sue Honeywell in Court on this matter. I am not rich by any means, and My dear UAW union reps have been bought off so Cote can continue to shit on retired Honeywell workers that have put in alot of years and now , at the end, get shafted by Cote and his fucking Hetchmen corporation. I dont know what to do next, but this bastard is lower than snake shit and is about as UnAmerican as Obama himself.


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