Honeywell on the Hook for UAW Benefits, Judge Rules Getty Images

Honeywell on the Hook for UAW Benefits, Judge Rules

The company contended that because a collective bargaining agreement had expired, Honeywell was no longer required to pay benefits.

A group of about 500 retirees from Honeywell International’s plant in Greenville, Ohio, are entitled to their full pensions, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

In December 2015, Honeywell sent letters to UAW retirees from the plant, saying that their coverage would be terminated the following December. The company contended that because a collective bargaining agreement had expired, Honeywell was no longer required to pay benefits. The retirees filed a complaint against the decision last July. The plant is no longer operated by Honeywell.

According to the judge’s ruling, UAW members who retired from Honeywell before June 1, 2012 and their spouses are entitled to the lifetime benefits the company agreed to in collective bargaining in 2003 and subsequent contracts.

Ken Lortz, director of UAW Region 2B, said in a statement that the decision “speaks to the strength of collective bargaining agreements and why the benefits union members negotiate protect them in cases where a company decides to change its mind.”

The judge said that the fact that the company and the union negotiated a retirement incentive that offered  benefits to eligible employees to entice them to retire, was proof positive that the intent was to establish vested lifetime benefits.

Honeywell said it will appeal the decision. 

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