National Labor Relations Board to issue complaint against Hanford conractors

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldMay 20, 2013 

The National Labor Relations Board is preparing to issue a complaint on contractor actions during union negotiations with the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council.

The board proposed a settlement agreement, but CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., which has taken the lead in negotiations for Hanford contractors, declined to sign.

The proposed settlement agreement addressed actions by four Hanford contractors after they allowed a collective bargaining agreement covering 2,600 Hanford workers to expire Feb. 2 rather than continuing to extend it during negotiations with HAMTC.

The contractors notified workers they would no longer deduct union dues from worker paychecks and would no longer pay hourly wages for time spent by workers negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement as delegates for the 15 unions under the HAMTC umbrella.

The proposed settlement agreement sided with HAMTC on those issues.

It would require contractors to pay negotiating committee delegates and alternates for their time spent preparing for and participating in contract negotiations at an overtime rate of time and a half.

Usually, negotiations are done during work time and participants would be paid at their regular hourly rate, but contractors have required negotiating to be done outside work time since the collective bargaining agreement expired, said Dave Molnaa, HAMTC president.

The proposed settlement agreement also would require contractors to remit union dues and initiation fees, with interest, that they failed to remit from February through May. The amount would be paid by the contractors and would not be recouped from employees, according to the proposed settlement agreement.

The contractors would be required to resume withholding union dues from paychecks in June.

The National Labor Relations Board sent letters May 10 to CH2M Hill, Mission Support Alliance, Washington River Protection Solutions and Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International with the proposed settlement agreement.

If the agreement was not signed by last Friday, the board said it planned to issue a complaint.

The complaint then would go before an administrative law judge for a trial and decision by the judge. The National Labor Relations Board, with members appointed by the president, acts as a quasi-judicial body in deciding cases of alleged unfair labor practices.

Officials reached at Washington River Protection Solutions and Advanced Technologies and Laboratories did not immediately know Monday afternoon if the agreement had been signed, and Mission Support Alliance said its policy was not to discuss any issue related to ongoing labor negotiations.

However, in other negotiation matters, the three contractors have followed the lead of CH2M Hill, which did not sign the settlement agreement.

A settlement would avoid time-consuming and costly litigation for all parties, according to the labor relations board. HAMTC believes that the cost of contractor attorneys eventually would be reimbursed by the Department of Energy.

Collective bargaining negotiations on the key issues of pay, health care benefits and retirement have made little progress, with proposals unfair to workers, Molnaa said. Negotiations on those or other issues have been under way for about 16 months.

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