Union statment on Pilgrim nuclear plant lockout

The following release is being issued by the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369.

An Entergy replacement worker who was deployed after a lockout of union employees at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant is criticizing the Louisiana-based company’s management team at Pilgrim, calling its competency “pretty low.” The worker, who arrived in Plymouth April 30th, said Entergy management was unprepared for the situation they created.

The worker also said Entergy has misled replacement workers about the length of their stay at Pilgrim Nuclear and that the company is having employees doing jobs they weren’t trained to do.

“They’ve been asking us to do jobs we aren’t trained for. There’s nobody in there to do it so we didn’t have a choice,” said the worker, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. “I’m a good tech and good at my job, but I live my life by what’s right – and what they’re doing isn’t right.”

He said this is especially problematic given the fact that every nuclear plant has different terminology and procedures.

“The procedures are different at every plant and it can be hard to remember all of those procedures,” he said.

The worker added that management recently asked him and others in his field for copies of their resumes to verify competency levels.

“I mean, shouldn’t they have done that before we arrived?” the worker asked. “They’re new to this and they’re trying to cover their tracks.”

In addition, the worker said that Entergy has reneged on promises made to replacement workers regarding living expenses while onsite at Plymouth.  The worker also charged Entergy with misleading replacement employees about the situation with members of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 – saying that Entergy told employees that the union went on strike, even though company management locked out the nearly 250 workers.

“It’s not surprising that Entergy shows the same level of disregard for replacement workers as it does for union workers,” said Dan Hurley, president of  UWUA Local 369.  “Entergy CEO Wayne Leonard and Chief Nuclear Officer John Herron have made hundreds of millions over the past few years and will stand to gain even more profits by shortchanging workers.”

In addition, the worker questioned the amount of money Entergy has spent on armed security forces, replacement workers, stipends and other expenses associated with the lockout.

“Just look at how much money Entergy is spending not to get a contract,” said the worker.  “Entergy has put us in the middle.  Nobody in there wants to cross a picket line, but we have no choice. If we quit they’ve told us we can’t file for unemployment.”

The worker said that Entergy’s stance with the local union is of little surprise given how the industry has changed over the past five years. He describes a growing and dangerous “not my plant” mentality with more of a focus on profit and less on personal accountability.

“People just want to make money,” he said. “Power plants are increasingly cutting corners and it will catch up with them eventually.”

Entergy makes nearly $1 million a day from Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, and the company recently received a 20-year license renewal. UWUA Local 369 had spent nearly two months negotiating with Entergy over key healthcare, safety and staffing issues.

“Entergy’s misleading statements and underhanded tactics are consistent with a company that is focused on excessive profits at the expense of the safety and wellbeing of workers and our communities,” said Hurley. “It’s clear that Entergy is willing to waste tens of thousands of dollars in breaking unions rather than investing in a reasonable contract that is fair to the hardworking men and men who safely run this nuclear power plant.  Entergy is not only anti union, its anti-worker.”

The replacement worker’s comments come as UWUA Local 369 recently filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Entergy. The complaint includes charges that Entergy management made a series of “coercive, threatening” statements to workers prior to the early June contract vote in an attempt to influence the outcome.

The complaint also includes charges that Entergy employed security forces are attempting to intimidate picketing workers by video and audio taping them outside of Pilgrim.

A local attorney has also filed a complaint against Entergy, alleging that the company’s housing of replacement workers onsite at the nuclear power plant violates local Plymouth zoning laws.

Entergy operates or manages ten nuclear power plants around the nation, including those in Michigan, Vermont, Arkansas and Mississippi.