Scabs Brought in To Run Nuclear Power Plant During Lockout in Mass.
On June 5, a number of replacement workers and outside managers were brought in to operate Entergy's Plymouth Station nuclear power plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts. While the replacement workers have experience working as technicians in other nuclear power plants in the United States, the union claims that the technicians lack the site-specific experience needed to operate a plant as complex as Plymouth Station. One replacement worker who spoke to Working In These Times worries that a mix of replacement workers and Entergy managers with little experience operating the Plymouth Station could cause a catastrophe.
The lockout of 250 workers began after Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 369 and Entergy were unable to agree to a contract. Entergy had pushed for the elimination of disability insurance, of life insurance for workers over age 55, and of seniority in the plant, as well as for cuts to workers’ retirement and medical plans. The company also wanted to maintain the right to make unilateral changes to workers’ retirement and medical plans whenever it wanted.
“What we want is protection down the road for our family” says union member John Barilaro. “It’s a risky business and people do get sick. And they really don’t care. They are just concerned about the bottom line.”
Entergy Spokesman Michael Bourne says Entergy decided to lock the workers out because the “union would not back away from their right to call a strike at any time without prior notification” after the union contract expired Tuesday night. But Dan Hurley, president of UWUA Local 369, disputes this charge. Hurley says that while the union would not give up their legal right to strike after the contract expired, it was willing to give the company advance notice of a strike, so as to comply with federal laws.