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Gunmaker Holding Gun to the Head of UAW Members in Connecticut

Union workers at West Hartford’s Colt Firearms plant are scared for their jobs after the company announced they will open a new manufacturing plant in Central Florida. The move can’t help but remind one of this year’s NLRB complaint against Boeing for moving a plant of theirs to South Carolina from Washington as retaliation against their union workforce.

After 175 years in Hartford, Colt’s move to Kissimmee, FL marks the first time that Colt has considered any U.S. operations outside of Connecticut. According to The Hartford Courant, United Auto Workers (UAW) members met on Sunday in Newington where they learned that part of the company’s plan is to freeze jobs at the West Hartford plant and begin cutting them in the New Year. The UAW represents 350 workers at the plant.

In June of 2010, 128 union workers were layed off. Since then, though, all but 26 have been hired back. But the news that the company will begin operations in “Right-to-Work” Florida has bleakened the outlook of the Local 350 members:

“They told us to expect more layoffs after the holidays,” said Mike Holmes, the shop chairman at Colt’s for UAW Local 376.

“The members are strongly opposed to this and we consider it a direct threat to jobs in Hartford, especially at a time when we’re losing jobs,” Holmes said Monday.

Let’s review the situation. Three months before their contract with union workers is set to expire, Colt Firearms and its sister company Colt Defense announce they will build a new manufacturing plant in “Right-to-Work” Florida and start ditching jobs in union-friendly Connecticut. It is now the job of UAW rep. Mike Holmes to convince the company that it is better for them to stay with union workers in Connecticut.

“We have had a strong contract and we’ve had a good working relationship here,” Holmes said. “And that’s why … we find it disturbing that jobs are being created elsewhere,” Holmes said.

The intentional and committed weakening of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by Tea Party-backed Republicans has left the agency on the brink of dissolution and emboldened companies like Colt’s zeal with respect to anti-union practices. The union feels the company is taking advantage of the situation by moving into a state where they can pay their workers less and sweep exploitative practices under the rug.

Colt Firearms has adopted the anti-worker strategy of hostage-based negotiation. They have a contract to renegotiate in March and they know that, even if they stay in Connecticut, they will get more concessions from workers if they begin making threats in advance.

“We were really caught off guard by this big unveiling of Colt down in Florida,” Holmes said. “We would like the opportunity to create the jobs here. … We believe in our workforce and the skills of our workforce and we pride ourselves that we make the best firearms in the world.”

NOTE: Florida Governor Rick Scott has committed $1.6 million to the new facility in order to lure it away from Connecticut.

(hat-tip to @Blogwood for the link).


7 Comments on “Gunmaker Holding Gun to the Head of UAW Members in Connecticut”

  1. […] firearms has announced that it’s opening a factory in Florida. Steve Cooper writes that this is “the first time that Colt has considered any U.S. operations outside of […]

  2. […] firearms has announced that it’s opening a factory in Florida. Steve Cooper writes that this is “the first time that Colt has considered any U.S. operations outside of […]

  3. So, you are FOR the military-industrial complex so long as it benefits union members?

    I’m sorry to be confused, but Colt stepped almost completely away from the civilian firearms market decades ago after losing the ability to make a quality firearm for a reasonable price.

    Some of us have been around long enough to remember when Colt got overtaken by the UAW. Prices went up and quality went down until the only people who would buy their firearms was the government. Not too long after that, Colt had to switch to subcontractors for over half their work so they could make a competitive bid.

    Now, the only firearms Colt manufactures on the civilian market start in the range of two month’s wages and there are more manufacturers than you’ve got fingers and toes who can make a better product, in both function and appearance, for less.

    Colt is dying. If the military ever phases out the M4 completely, which they are looking to do within the next decade, and Colt can’t get a decent bid in to manufacture some portion of the new rifle, they will go under completely and those 350 people will be out of work with no chance of getting rehired in Connecticut.

    Stop blaming the Republicans. Your, and their, problem is with the laws of economics (and reality).

  4. […] They blame congressional Republicans. […]

  5. Boeing did not *move* a plant to South Carolina. They did however *build* a new one there. The factories in Renton and Everett Washington are still building airplanes as fast as the customers will take them. In case you have not heard: the backlog (of undelivered planes) is large and sales are making records.

  6. Another great union move. Squeeze another old NE US factory and make them take their work elsewhere. Thankfully they’re mpving to Florida where other Americans will get a chance to stay employed.

    UAW could have tried to save some ofthe jobs, but instead they will loose all of the jobs. Good work guys…..

    1. I live in Michigan now, in the Detroit Metro area. Even my UAW retiree nogihbers are beginning to talk like the realize the gravy train is over.They still whine about being *promised* all the health care they could forever for free (or something like that), but there isn’t much fire in their voices any more.Hell, some of them may have to sell their second boat or their third house (the second vacation home — the one in the woods, not the one on the lake).Now, if only we could get the teachers union (and I belong to an affiliate of the rotten SOBs) to admit that they don’t really need or deserve a health benefit that costs pretty much 30% more than any other health benefit in the state ($12,500 per year per union member, as opposed to less than $10,000/year for other unions and $8800/yr for state universities) maybe I’ll believe reality has set in.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

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