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Latest News - September 2011

September 25, 2011
Union contract with Entergy to expire soon
Negotiations with IBEW 97 continue

By: Aaron Curtis

As contract talks continue between Entergy Corporation and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 97, union members displayed their solidarity during a rally in Scriba on Sunday afternoon.

The current contract between Entergy Corporation, owner of Scriba’s James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant, and union members employed at the plant will expire at midnight, Sept. 30.

According to Jim Yerdon, business representative for IBEW Local 97, there are “civil discussions” ongoing between the two entities regarding a new contract.

“There is a lot on the table right now,” he said. “We are hoping for the discussions to continue, and hopefully we can reach a fair agreement.”

The current one-and-a-half-year contract is an extension of the previous contract. Ted Skerpon, IBEW business manager, noted that Entergy is not interested in tacking on an additional extension to that contract, with Oct. 1 rapidly approaching.

Skerpon addressed the crowd of union workers and families during Sunday’s rally, which exceeded 100 participants. His comments were often met with applause and cheers of support from the crowd.

“(Unions) are not the cause of the current economic conditions,” Skerpon said. “We need to dispel that belief. Unions built the middle class as we know it, and we need to stand tall and together in order to maintain it.”

Skerpon said that he hopes that there is no need to turn to a union strike at the plant, a familiar scenario in Scriba, as earlier this year, members of the IBEW Local 97, employed at the Constellation Energy Nuclear Group’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, staged a walkout after contract negotiations broke down.

The strike eventually ended after 18 days when the two sides agreed to a four-year contract that included a 2 percent increase in general wages and an updates to the pension plan, which was initially the source of contention and caused the strike.

“That is not what we want to see happen,” said Tammy Holden, a spokeswoman for Entergy. “Both sides are bargaining in good faith and the goal is to reach a contract that properly balances the needs of our employees and our company.”
Holden added that in the case negotiations break down and the union chooses to strike, a contingency plan at the plant is in place, as non-unionized personnel at the plant would assume the job duties potentially left behind by IBEW Local 97 employees. This week, Entergy will have management employees at the plant shadow union workers, to better know the functions of each individual job.

During his address to rally attendees on Sunday, Yerdon addressed the job shadowing and told union workers to not teach contingent workers how to perform the jobs that would potentially be left behind in the case of a walkout.

Also, Skerpon criticized officials of Entergy for only now sending the contingent workers on the scene to better learn the job of IBEW Local 97 employees.

“I mean this is a power plant, they probably should have started shadowing months ago,” Skerpon said.

During the strike at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station earlier this year, which included approximately 450 of the roughly 1,100 workers at the plant walking off the job, no significant safety issues were identified at the facility by members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who were on site at the facility to oversee the effectiveness of the contingency plan.



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