Hanford unions to vote on agreement

The Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council will vote on a proposed collective bargaining agreement after 18 months of negotiations with five Hanford contractors.

The vote was scheduled after HAMTC and Hanford contractors signed a memorandum of understanding.

HAMTC agreed to hold a vote by July 19 and to remain neutral, said Dave Molnaa, HAMTC president. The vote for about 2,600 Hanford workers in 15 unions under the HAMTC umbrella is scheduled for Tuesday.

The offers are what most contractors have called their best and final offer, Molnaa said. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., Mission Support Alliance, Washington River Protection Solutions and Advanced Technologies and Laboratories have made similar offers, but Washington Closure Hanford's offer differs and negotiations between it and HAMTC have been less acrimonious.

The offers cover such key issues as pay, health care benefits and retirement, but Molnaa declined to discuss specifics given his agreement to remain neutral. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., which has led negotiations for most of the contractors involved, also declined to discuss details.

Details are being shared with workers in small group meetings that have been scheduled through Monday. Union dues must be current for workers to vote.

If a simple majority of workers fails to approve the offer, negotiations will resume.

However, because of the memorandum of understanding, delegates for the 15 unions under the HAMTC umbrella will be paid for time spent by the workers negotiating. Contractors also agreed in the memorandum of understanding to resume withholding union dues from paychecks starting this week.

The last collective bargaining agreement ended March 31, 2012, and contractors extended it three times. But CH2M Hill, MSA, WRPS and ATL declined to extend it again past Feb. 2. Little progress had been made in negotiations with those contractors then, Molnaa said in February.

The four contractors notified workers that without a collective bargaining agreement they would no longer deduct union dues from worker paychecks and would no longer pay hourly wages for times spent by workers assigned to negotiations.

HAMTC filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which proposed a settlement agreement. Contractors declined to sign the proposed agreement, which would have required contractors to pay overtime rates for negotiating, which was being done in evenings since workers were not being paid to do it during work time.

The proposed agreement also would have required contractors to remit union dues and initiation fees they had failed to deduct from paychecks and to add interest. The amount would be paid by the contractors and would not be recouped from employees.

The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint when contractors declined to sign the proposed settlement agreement and set a trial date for Oct. 19, Molnaa said.

Following the memorandum of understanding between HAMTC and the contractors, HAMTC agreed to withdraw the complaint.

CH2M Hill is encouraged that a vote on the proposed collective bargaining agreement has been set, said Dee Millikin, a spokeswoman for the contractor. "We'd like to see this come to an end," she said.

Molnaa said the worker vote will give HAMTC a clear path forward.

-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @HanfordNewsp