Mass. nuke plant labor dispute leads to lockout
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (WHDH) -- A labor dispute at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth has boiled over with management locking out unionized workers and both sides accusing the other of compromising public safety.
The president of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 said Wednesday that plant owner Entergy locked out unionized employees after contract negotiations ended Tuesday. The union represents about 90 percent of the plant's work force.
“That’s why we’re here right now -- we’re willing to go to work and work without a contract and we told that to them, we’re willing to sit down with them at anytime to try and get this thing worked out, but they chose to lock us out at midnight,” said Kelly O’Brien, a union member.
President Dan Hurley called the move "deeply alarming." He called it "despicable" that management continues "shortchanging" employees a week after getting a 20-year license renewal. He says Louisiana-based Entergy is demanding "major concessions on health care, salary and staffing."
Entergy said the plant has implemented an emergency staffing plan because the union reserved the right to walk off the job at any time.
“We’re going to find out [if we can safely replace 90 percent of our workforce],” said one man. “All your skilled and qualified workers are out on the street.”
As the picketing continues the nuclear regulatory committee will monitor things going on inside of the plant.
There is no word on when or if the two sides will go back to the negotiating table.
(Copyright (c) 2012 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)