The Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service announced Wednesday that it’s getting involved in the labor dispute at the Pantex nuclear weapons facility, asking both sides to come together to explore ways to settle the 2 1/2-week-old strike by 1,100 workers. It appears that Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at Pantex, and the Metal Trades Council, which represents the 10 unions at Pantex, are both agreeable to the proposed effort.
A meeting is in the works, but no date has been confirmed.
In a statement, Allison Beck, director of the mediation service, said, “While FMCS has been monitoring the situation closely and mediation is normally a completely voluntary process, we cannot stand by and let this critical nuclear weapons facility continue to experience a work stoppage.”
Pantex is a sister plant to the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, and both plants are managed by CNS. Negotiations on a new labor contract at Y-12 have been put on hold, pending a resolution of the dispute at Pantex.
Beck said she had assigned Scot L. Beckenbaugh, deputy director of the agency, to serve as federal mediator at Pantex.
Steve Myers, a spokesman for Consolidated Nuclear Security at Pantex, released this comment from the contractor, “CNS fully supports the engagement of a federal mediator to assist both parites in achieving a fair and equitable agreement. In the meantime, Pantex continues safe and stable operations.”
The Metal Trades Council, and its labor parent, the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, expressed “cautious optimism.”
“This strike has never been about wages,” Clarence Rashada, president of the Metal Trades Council at Pantex, said in a statement. “It has always been about maintaining the benefits that we have earned and bargained for in previous collective bargaining agreements.”
Ron Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department, said in a statement that he was pleased by the action. “These workers deserve a fair and equitable contract that includes benefits commensurate with the service they provide our nation.”
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