The Pantex Saga

A task force led by Metal Trades Department (MTD) Special Representative for Nuclear Weapons Workers Health, Shel Samuels, is petitioning for workers at Pantex to be granted a Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) under the Energy Employees Occupational Disease Compensation Act. Samuels along with claimant’s representative Sarah Dworzack Ray, and Professor Lar Fuortes, MD, of the University of Iowa’s occupational health program have requested that the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius include those employed between 1951 and 1957 under the SEC. On October 30, 2013, workers in the ’84 to ’91 class were admitted to the SEC.

A SEC is a uniquely defined category of employees established under the EEOCPA, which would allow Pantex workers’ to bypass the lengthy process called radiation dose reconstruction.

On November 6, the MTD petitioners called for a special review of the exclusion of workers employed from ‘51 through ’57, the latest chapter in the sad saga documenting the struggle of unions to protect their members that began more than a generation ago.

The MTD’s original petition for an SEC dates back to 2006. That petition was filed on behalf of former Pantex workers and their unions, claiming that dose reconstruction by NIOSH was not feasible, triggering the default provision of the Act and enabling an SEC. The claim was based upon the absence of an adequate records base. The Advisory Board to the NIOSH program initially recommended denial of the petition, but the MTD’s representative filed a reply that indicated that NIOSH had fundamental scientific flaws in its interpretation of the dose reconstruction process.

Special exposure cohort status has been granted to a number of federal nuclear facilities around the country, including K-25 in Oak Ridge and the earliest work years at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, but worker advocates have been calling for the designation to apply to all plants associated with production of nuclear weapons.

Hanford workers reject contractor offers

— Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council workers decisively voted down offers from five Hanford contractors Tuesday.

HAMTC posted results Tuesday night.

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation workers voted 408 to 2 against the offer.

Washington River Protection Solutions workers voted 474 to 3 against the offer.

Read the full article from the Tri-City Herald >

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2013/07/16/2472935/hanford-workers-reject-hanford.html#storylink=cpy
The Invisible Party at the Table: The Detrimental Effect of the DOE's Benefit Policy on Collective Bargaining at the Hanford Nuclear Cleanup Site

The Invisible Party at the Table: The Detrimental Effect of the DOE's Benefit Policy on Collective Bargaining at the Hanford Nuclear Cleanup Site

DOE is the original “Go-Co”…Government owned, contractor operated agency within
the federal government. As such the work of DOE and its predecessors is almost exclusively
performed by contractors and has been since the middle of World War II during the development
of the Manhattan Project. DOE is the customer and as such sets the standards of the contracts
and administration of these contracts. DOE is the defacto employer of the contractor workforce.
DOE awards contracts based on Requests for Proposals that are developed and written by DOE.
The reimbursements that are allowable under the terms of the DOE contracts sets the limits as to
what the contractors will negotiate with the unions that represents their workers. When the DOE
says they are not involved in negotiations with the unions for the workers at DOE sites, what
they are not saying is that they set the limits on what the contractors can get paid for. DOE
incentivizes contractors’ awards by reimbursements and bonuses for costs avoidances and
reductions in costs, knowing full well these terms dramatically affect the scope and the terms of
the negotiations between labor unions and the contractors.

Read the Metal Trades Department White Paper linked below.
Download:
White Paper

High-Hazard Nuclear Facilities Risk Losing Thousands of Work Years of Institutional Knowledge

Health and Safety of Nation’s Nuclear Workers and the Public in Jeopardy

Washington, DC—If the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) successfully consolidates its operational contracts at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas thousands of work years of institutional knowledge could being lost, putting the nation’s national security at risk.

The NNSA plans to issue just one contract that will cover both facilities. This Request for Proposal (RFP) does not require the successor contractor to employ the existing workforce. Failing to include this provision in the RFP could prove dire at high-hazard nuclear operations such as these. “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 that represents workers at both facilities.

It has been a requirement since these facilities began operations that the workforce carries over. The MTD and its affiliated unions have asked DOE Secretary Dr. Stephen Chu to step in on the worker’s behalf and direct the NNSA to amend their current RFP so that it specifically requires the successor contractor to maintain the current workforce and the rates of pay and levels of benefits; a practice that has been followed for these facilities for more than sixty years.

The Metal Trades Councils—the Atomic Trades & Labor Council at Y-12 and the Metal Trades Council of Amarillo, Texas and Vicinity at Pantex—represent employees who work under five year contracts between the NNSA and private contractors. Although contractors change every five years most of the employees do not, some having been at the facilities for decades. Most hold the highest security clearance levels.

Workers at these facilities are also facing separate attacks to their health and safety in the form of HR 4310 House Armed Services Committee’s 2013 National Defense Authorization bill. Legislation pending in Congress would shift the entire safety & health program to NNSA and eliminate current DOE worker health and safety standards and enforcement, substituting ineffective standards and “performance-based” oversight.

The MTD and its affiliated unions strongly oppose changes in worker safety and health contained in HR4310, and believe it will put nuclear workers and the public’s health and safety at risk.

MTD Exec. Council Reaches Out to US DOE Secretary Chu on Behalf of Employees at Y-12 and Pantex Nuclear Facilities

The Metal Trades Department Executive Council has reached out to Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary, US Department of Energy, asking Dr. Chu to step in on behalf of workers at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. The Department expressed its concern that a pending consolidation of the operational contracts threatens the wages, benefits, health care and retirement plans for the workers at each of the sites and jeopardize the work of both facilities. There is no reference within the NNSA proposal to consolidate for transitioning these skilled and experienced workers when the contractors are changed. It has been customary since these facilities began operations that the workforce carries over. The MTD is seeking the Secretary’s help in directing the The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to amend their current Request for Proposal (RFP) so that it maintains wage rates and benefits in collective bargaining agreements in effect at the two facilities

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is seeking to consolidate the operations and management of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. The Metal Trades Councils—the Atomic Trades & Labor Council at Y-12 and the Metal Trades Council of Amarillo, Texas and Vicinity at Pantex—represent employees who work under five year contracts between the NNSA and private contractors. Although the contractors change every five years most of the employees do not, some having been at the facilities for decades. Most hold the highest security clearance levels.

The effects of the NNSA’s actions will have economic impact for employees, their families and their communities, not to mention the security of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

You can view the letter by clicking on the attachment below.

DOE Pantex Consolidation (pdf)