Skip to main content

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).

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  From the info you posted, not only is this bad but (7+ / 0-)

    much more to it than the Boeing issue, imo. I hope the NLRB jumps on this one as expediently and fully as they did that one.

    Justified anger does not grant you unrestricted license.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:09:09 AM PST

  •  Welp (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is to be expected - States that have lax rules about employment are going to be prime targets for corporations looking to save a few bucks.

    I don't know if I agree with the verbiage of 'A gun to the head', this is pretty standard company negotiation tactic with unions.

    I don't know what the solution here is - I kind of doubt that Connecticut will pony up incentives for the Colt.

    Though I could be wrong - it's possible that Colt is playing both ends against the middle in order to force the State to act and give them additional incentives.

  •  Thanks for the info's no secret about (6+ / 0-)

    NLRB having no teeth, I don't think it ever did...and I have had 1st hand experiences with trying to file a complaint against a former employer a little under 20 yrs ago.  

    That's when I was young and idealistic and believed we had the same rights to unionize as wealthy businessmen did/do when they create a corporation...

    Nope, we never were equal under the law.  The company I worked for where I tried to unionize was allowed to do some of the most unethical and corrupt things and I was told "they are acting within the statutes of the law, complaint denied".

    I couldn't even file a complaint, no one would listen then and no one is listening now...

    They were allowed not only to lie but were give carte blanche to harass and intimidate my co-workers and they tried it with me...I was too stubborn to notice it until it was too late...

    That experience taught me there is no social justice in America, only a pipe-dream we are allowed to falsely believe.

    Sad part of it all, we had control of the White House for 8 yrs and all three branches for 2 yrs and nothing has been done to actually correct this...

    Thanks anyways for the info, no big surprises for me...the planned & executed destruction of the middle class continues...

    -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

    by gerrilea on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:12:50 AM PST

  •  How much of this is based on total cost (7+ / 0-)

    of operations, vs. just labor costs?

    The UAW issue is only one portion of this debate.

    Colt Industries infrastructure was old when I visited the plant back in the '80s, the demise of the "D-frame" wasn't based on poor sales, but on aging production processes and a higher cost of manufacturing.  Detective Specials, Cobras, and Diamondbacks still sold like hotcakes, but Colt felt the ROI on re-tooling was counter-intuitive.  Same for the excellent "Woodsman" series of .22 pistols.

    Connecticut has been legendarily hard on Colt, Marlin, Winchester and Ruger, in a bi-polar fashion.  
    We want you to pay more into the State coffers, but we hate you for making guns.  
    You need to stay here, as your jobs pay more than several other sectors, however - you need to only sell to bona-fide police agencies and the Government.

    The cost of operating a plant in FL may indeed be less, and with Colt losing patent protections on the AR-platform years ago, it's market share is diminished.  
    (not to mention some real crap handgun models it's made over the past 20 years)

    A man who stands for nothing, will fall for anything. ~ Malcolm X.

    by 43north on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:34:01 AM PST

  •  Argh! (4+ / 0-)

    The last job I held in Manufacturing (IT Dept) was for a company that busted their union by moving from Missouri to South Carolina.  Great idea.  QA dropped from teh MO level (good-ish) to the level that was already in place in SC (as in 'WHAT quality?')  Management tried everything they could think of (not a lot of thinking) and still never could get QA up to the Missouri level.

    They must had forgotten that they AQUIRED this location from a competitor due to Quality Assurance issues!

    Considering that they no longer have major DoD contracts, Colt needs to be sure that they don't suffer a quality loss.  Samuel Colt's legacy will become meaningless if it does.  

    Bowers v. DeVito "...there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered." Member of the Liberal Gun Club

    by ErikO on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:07:25 AM PST

  •  EFCA. (0+ / 0-)

    Would have prevented this.

    Instead of good paying jobs being transformed into crap paying jobs, there would be crap paying jobs turning into good paying jobs.

    We could have had better healthcare plans being negotiated into new collective bargaining contracts too.

    "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool." - Republican Congressman Allen West (FL-22) Rawstory Source

    by JayFromPA on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 11:48:59 PM PST

    •  How would that have worked out in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mildly Unsuccessful Lurker

      right-to-work states?

      Allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining contracts without joining the union raises a huge free-rider problem, no?


      "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
      "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

      by Leftie Gunner on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 04:43:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what happens (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mildly Unsuccessful Lurker

        in the general workforce.

        At it's height, the 25% of the private labor force that was unionized brought up the standard of living for the other 75% that was not in a union.

        That wasn't a "huge free rider problem" then, and won't be a problem later.

        Actually, that 'free rider' meme is a conservative republican concept. Often you'll hear the republicans screaming about people "getting what they don't deserve" or comparable phrasing. We heard echoes of it in Ron Paul's opposition to health insurance that would have covered that ex-employee of his who died due to lack of insurance. There are strains of "No Free Rider" in the very regressive flat tax plan of herman cain.

        Rid thyself of that "Free Rider" crap. I've worked in a union shop that had non-union employees. Frankly, I was paid well and did not care that my piddly five dollars each month union dues helped support an umbrella under which those other non-union people had shelter.

        "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool." - Republican Congressman Allen West (FL-22) Rawstory Source

        by JayFromPA on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 05:18:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not just a right-wing idea. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mildly Unsuccessful Lurker

          (see one of my other comments as to why I don't use "meme" in this context)

          The problem is that, if sufficient numbers of people benefit from something to which they do not contribute, there is a corresponding decline in willingness to do anything to promote it. Everybody starts thinking that it's somebody else's problem.

          Which is, of course, exactly why right-to-work laws were passed in the first place... and why they've worked so well. (They've worked well in accomplishing their purpose, that is.)


          "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
          "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

          by Leftie Gunner on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 08:21:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site