LAURA HANSES, Kennewick
Recent negotiations with the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council include proposals for pay reductions, loss of and increased costs for benefits, mandatory overtime and loss of seniority.
Looking at ways to save taxpayer money is a good idea; taking shortcuts for Hanford cleanup is not.
As an exempt Hanford worker, I know the highly skilled union workers are the ones who do the "real work" with dangerous contaminants, and they make up less than 25 percent of the work force.
Exempt staff, including management, make up the majority, and a large percentage have higher base salaries than HAMTC workers.
It seems that recognizing the training and risk for our "cleanup workers" is disturbingly lacking -- and retaining our trained and knowledgeable work force is not desired.
Savings in salaries should first start by reducing some exempt salaries, eliminating high dollar subcontractors and looking at efficiencies with overhead staff and management (including reduction).
With mandatory overtime, we are inviting a new hazard, a fatigued radiological worker. Something as simple as turning the wrong valve in the wrong direction could prove hazardous for us all.
Let's pay our HAMTC workers an equitable salary, protect their welfare and provide benefits commensurate with the hazardous work. Likewise, contractors should find other cost-saving measures.