Entergy prepared to run Pilgrim in case of labor strike

Entergy (NYSE: ETR) is prepared to operate the 680-MW Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth, Mass., in the event that members of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 go on strike when their current labor contract expires May 15, a company spokesperson said May 7.

Union members voted May 4 to authorize a strike at the single-unit boiling water reactor plant if the two sides are unable to agree on a new deal.

The union said in a news release that it has 380 members working at Pilgrim. UWUA’s current contract with Entergy expires at midnight May 15. “To date, Entergy and UWUA have agreed on just one of more than 40 pending articles in the contract after a month of negotiations,” the union said.

An Entergy spokesperson said she could not comment much, other than to note that contract talks are continuing. The spokesperson also said Entergy has a contingency plan, approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to continue running the plant should the union workers go on strike.

There are 11 nuclear power units in the Entergy fleet so the company has significant resources to draw upon in the event of a strike, the company spokesperson said.

The union’s strike authorization comes as Entergy has entered the final stages of a six-year NRC review process to renew the Pilgrim license. NRC staff has recommended extending the operating license into 2032. The current Pilgrim license is set to expire June 8, Entergy confirmed.

UWUA Local 369 said its affected members voted “overwhelmingly” to authorize a strike. The union characterized the dispute as being about “safety, staffing and healthcare issues.” The union said Entergy was seeking to replace more than a dozen workers with outside contractors. “Entergy makes a million dollars a day in profits from Pilgrim Nuclear and yet company executives are threatening the safety of our communities by trying to replace highly skilled veteran workers with outside contractors who have little or no knowledge of this facility,” said UWUA President Daniel Hurley.

Hurley claimed Entergy was seeking to “nickel and dime” its Pilgrim workforce while CEO Wayne Leonard is making millions.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.