Texas Nuclear Workers Win First Contract
August 24, 2011
For more than two decades, Kevin Smith has been part of the lynchpin of safety at South Texas Project’s nuclear power station. A member of a tight-knit team of performance technicians, Smith and his co-workers carefully test and re-test systems such as HVAC and fire protection throughout the sprawling facility that helps power nearly 2 million homes along the Gulf Coast.
Last year, workers reached out to Local 66 Business Representative Bruce Bettilyon, who said the process – from signing cards to getting an NLRB-certified election – was easier than any campaign he’d previously done:
The workers voted overwhelmingly for representation last October. They proceeded to negotiations over the next several months. IBEW representatives and their bargaining committee successfully lobbied for wage increases, longevity pay, more clearly defined supervisory procedures and greater employee input on scheduling. The unit unanimously approved its first contract in June.
Since then, the performance techs say they’ve been welcomed by the rest of the IBEW members and that the experience has fostered a more productive work environment around the shop. Said Smith:
New shop steward Shawn Sieben, an 11-year employee, said that he appreciates “the reassurance that I have the support of our hundreds of members behind me now, if I need to go into the office and have a crucial conversation about how the employees are being treated.”
Bettilyon offered appreciation to other union leaders instrumental in the effort, including Local 66 Executive Board Member and STP Unit Chairman Mark Griffin, Region 4 Organizer Kitty Prouse and Local 66 Business Representative/Organizer Michael Mosteit.
Bettilyon said other companies could take cues from STP: