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Wide Gulf and Angry Words in Indian Point Labor Talks

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Rye, N.Y. - Two days of contract talks with federal mediators ended Thursday night with angry union negotiators and no deal in sight on the last day of the contract between Entergy Nuclear and nearly 400 workers at the Indian Point power plant.

Talks between company representatives and the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2 broke up shortly before 10 PM Thursday at the Rye Hilton, where both sides have been sequestered since Wednesday morning. Union local President James Slevin huddled with mediators from the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service after angrily leaving the contract discussions.

"The company doesn't seem like it's ready to get serious about negotiating a fair contract," said UWU spokesman John Melia. "They haven't put anything on the table except takeaways and a regressive offer. It doesn't seem like they are ready to negotiate in good faith. It seems as if Entergy is trying to provoke a labor dispute.

"They have a pattern of doing this. They are very anti-labor and have a mindset that every shareholder should get rich and no one else."

Melia referred to the five-week lockout by Entergy of UWU members at its Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts in June, 2012. The lockout occurred during negotiations and after union leaders had agreed to two contract extensions so the talks could continue without a plant interruption. At the time of the lockout, Entergy was demanding concessions in pay, benefits, health care, and work rules. The final contract included 3 percent raises for the unionized workers.

Entergy representatives declined to comment Thursday. Neither of the parties nor the mediators are publicly discussing contract specifics. However, Entergy is believed to be seeking -- at least in its initial stage of discussions -- wage cuts and increased employee contributions to health care.

"That was a calculated risk at Pilgrim outside of Boston," said Melia, "and a bigger risk outside New York City. If you think these guys out of the Louisiana swamps want to roll the dice in the biggest metropolitan area of the United States, then they just brought Duck Dynasty to Buchanan, New York. It feels like they are saying 'those Yankees, you know how they are.'

"They talk about how they do things down there in the South as if the country is still as divided as it was 160 years ago."

If there is a strike or lockout, Entergy has prepared a work plan using primarily non-union management. That sort of replacement is easier at the twin Indian Point plants than at Entergy's smaller, single reactor Pilgrim plant. There were some 1,500 union workers at Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 when Entergy bought the power plants from the New York Power Authority and Con Edison in 2001. Entergy shed union positions in its consolidation of the two separate facilities, and now there are just 395 UWU employees.

-- Continue reading at Energy Matters.

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