Nuclear Workers Face Loss of Jobs, Benefits
June 12, 2012
The men and women who maintain and protect America’s nuclear weapons stockpile are essential to homeland security. Yet workers at top-secret nuclear facilities in Tennessee and Texas could face contract changes that compromise their jobs, wages and benefits and jeopardize the public safety.
IBEW Government Employees Director Chico McGill said:
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration issues contracts for work at the two facilities periodically. But mostly the same employees remain on the job, even as the name on their paychecks changes. Now, contrary to past practice, the department plans to issue a consolidated contract to cover both Oak Ridge and Amarillo. The preliminary proposal does not require new contractors to employ the existing work force or maintain current wage and benefit levels.
“Without this provision, contractors could employ unskilled labor, putting the health and safety of the public and these skilled workers in jeopardy,” said Ron Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO.
The Metal Trades Department and its affiliated unions have appealed to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. The April 19 letter states:
The new contract is expected to be awarded in late 2012, beginning a six-month transition period between contractors.
Workers at these facilities are also facing separate challenges to their health and safety in the form of a House defense bill passed in late May moving the safety and health programs at both facilities from under the Department of Energy’s Office of Health, Safety and Security to the National Nuclear Security Administration. The change would remove current health and safety standards and “eliminate workplace inspections and strip away protection against retaliation for raising safety and health concerns,” said the Metal Trades Department in a May 14 press release.
The MTD and its affiliated unions have launched a petition opposing the bill. Tell Congress to protect nuclear workers’ safety by signing here.