Pantex Nuclear Workers, CNS Reach Tentative Agreement

For Immediate Release: October 3, 2015
Contact: Ron Ault, 202-508-3705 or Tara Landis, 410-991-6615

Amarillo, TX–After more than a month on strike, the Amarillo Metal Trades Council (MTC), a 10-union coalition representing nearly 1,200 workers at the Pantex Nuclear Weapons facility, and Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) have reached a tentative agreement.

The MTC struck after more than seven months of bargaining when, on August 28, CNS-Pantex presented its “best, last and final” offer. At that time, 87 percent of the unionized workers voted to strike the Amarillo facility.

In late September, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) Director, Allison Beck, called the two parties back to the table to resume talks. The proposed agreement is a direct result of those new negotiations.

Highlights of the agreement include improved medical coverage with controlled out-of-pocket medical costs and contained premium increases for current and future employees; maintenance of the defined benefit pension plan for current employees; maintained sick leave earnings and bank; and improved short-term disability benefits.

“This was a hard fought battle,” says MTC President Clarence Rashada. “This strike was never about wages. It was about holding onto hard-won benefits and protecting our member’s future. In this agreement were able to improve several problem areas in the offer that was rejected. It will now go back to our members to vote on, ultimately, they have the final say.”

Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO President Ron Ault is pleased with the proposed agreement and thanked FMCS Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh, who acted as mediator. “I am very happy that, with the assistance of Federal Mediator Beckenbaugh, the parties were able to come to an fair and equitable agreement that restores the workers hard earned benefits,” said Ault.

In addition to the benefits package, the tentative agreement also gives employees annual wage increases of two percent. MTC represented employees will vote on the proposed agreement on Sunday, October 4.

# # #

The Metal Trades Department is a trade department of the AFL-CIO. It was chartered in 1908 to coordinate negotiating, organizing and legislative efforts of affiliated metalworking and related crafts and trade unions. Seventeen national and international unions are affiliated with the MTD today. More than 100,000 workers in private industry and federal establishments work under contracts negotiated by MTD Councils. Workers retain membership in their own trade unions.

The Amarillo Metal Trades Council is a 10-union Council within the Metal Trades Department that represents roughly 1,200 Pantex workers. The unions include: International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE); United Association (UA); International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers(IBB); Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART); International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT); Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU); International Association of Fire Fighters.

Pantex union chief: vote was ‘overwhelming’


By Frank Munger

Clarence Rashada, president of the Metal Trades Council at Pantex, said the vote to reject Consolidated Nuclear Security’s contract proposal was “overwhelming.” He declined to release the vote numbers.

According to Rashada, union workers were particularly unhappy with proposed changes in medical benefits, sick leave and pensions, and how they’re administered.

Read the Full Article

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.