"In Superman’s Hometown, a Labor Dispute Over Health"

"Union workers at the nation’s only uranium conversion plant, in Metropolis, Ill., have erected 42 crosses nearby in memory of workers who died of cancer. Twenty-seven smaller crosses symbolize workers who have survived the disease.

The memorial is a fitting backdrop for the contentious labor dispute that has shaken Metropolis — the self-proclaimed hometown of Superman, which sits on the Ohio River at the southern edge of Illinois. Many workers believe that the plant contributed to their fellow employees’ illnesses, which is a central reason the union is refusing to accept the plant operator’s plan to reduce pensions for newly hired workers and health benefits for retirees.

On June 28, Honeywell, the plant operator, locked out its 220 union employees after negotiations stalled, accusing the union of refusing to give the company 24 hours’ notice of a strike. The union has picketed ever since."

Dan Frosch reports for the New York Times August 8, 2010.

Source: NYTimes, 08/09/2010