The lockout at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station that began last Wednesday continued through the weekend, as union leaders claim that Entergy security forces have been video-and audio-taping picketing workers outside the plant, and that Entergy management made "coercive, threatening statements prior to the union's contract vote last week.
Saturday, UWUA Local 369 filed five charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Entergy:
- That Entergy security forces are video and audio taping picketing workers without consent. Massachusetts law requires all parties to consent to audio taping.
- That Entergy management personnel made a series of “coercive, threatening statements” to workers prior to last week’s contract vote.
- Entergy has failed to provided necessary and relevant information in response to various information requests
- Entergy has unilaterally changed the shift rotations of UWUA Local 369 workers without first providing notice and the opportunity to bargain in good faith
- Entergy has unilaterally changed the retirement and health insurance benefits of workers
"Entergy’s complete and utter disregard for the safety and wellbeing of Massachusetts workers and communities has been well documented, and this NLRB complaint exemplifies how the company chooses to do business," UWUA Local president Dan Hurley said in a press release announcing the complaint. "Rather than head back to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith, Entergy makes coercive statements and attempts to intimidate the workers who safely run Pilgrim Nuclear. It’s disgusting that Entergy CEO Wayne Leonard and Chief Nuclear Officer John Herron have made hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several years and yet company executives lock out workers who not only have young children and bills to pay, but who keep our communities safe."
The lockout began Wednesday morning, when union workers were escorted off the job as midnight passed and no contract was agreed upon between the two sides. Union negotiators and Entergy had been working with a federal mediator for the past several weeks to hammer out a deal, but the sides were stuck on the key issues of health care, safety and staffing. Approximately 250 workers are off the job. They are being replaced with workers from a subcontracted company and management personnel.
In response to the union's complaint filed, Entergy spokesman Carol Wightman sent a statement saying that the company's focus "today and every day remains on continuing to safely operate the plant, which we are doing.
"We remain ready to resume discussions with Union leadership under the guidance of the mediator. When the Federal Mediator calls the parties to the table, Entergy is there. It is disappointing that union leadership is seemingly looking to circumvent this established mediation process. The company believes the federal mediation process is the success path to a contract that will enable employees to come back to work, which has been our goal throughout this process."
Entergy claims that the average union employee earned more than $122,000 last year, while the proposed contract included 2 percent raises each year for the next four years, and a "premium health plan."
"There is only one reason why we aren’t at the bargaining table right now and that is Entergy," Hurley said. "Our workers remain ready and willing to continue their vitally important work of safely running Pilgrim Nuclear. The greed of Entergy executives should not come at the expense of the safety of Massachusetts communities. It’s time for Entergy to return to the bargaining table and let these hardworking men and women do their jobs."
"We’re grateful for the tremendous support we’ve received over the past few days from our elected officials, local communities, business and community leaders, other labor unions and the general public," Hurley added. "We remain committed to keeping our communities safe and hope that Entergy will return to the bargaining table."