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September 17, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Indian Point union talks expected to pick back up Tuesday

Negotiations between Entergy Corp., Indian Point Energy Center’s owner and operator, and a union representing more than 300 plant employees are expected to pick back up Tuesday after the two sides took a break from talks this weekend.

Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said today that company representatives will meet again with representatives from Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2. The union represents 330 employees at the Buchanan nuclear plan, including operations, radiation protection, chemistry and maintenance workers.

Entergy agreed to close the plant’s two nuclear reactors by 2021 as part of a legal settlement. Photo by Bob Rozycki

The deadline to reach a collective bargaining agreement passed on Jan. 17, but the two sides have continued negotiations. The union has voted to authorize a strike if necessary.

Local 1-2 President James T. Slevin said in a statement on Saturday that Entergy refused to continue marathon talks shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday.

“Right now Entergy management needs more rest to figure out how to leave New York and not look back,” Slevin said Saturday. “In their arrogance, they would not assure the union or the community that they would commit to the closing of Indian Point safely and with trained professional personnel.”

Nappi said on Monday the company was bargaining in good faith. He outlined some of the offers the company has made to the union, including:

  • Wage increases of more than 12 percent compounded over the four-year contract;
  • A guarantee of no layoffs before both of Indian Point’s reactors are shut down in 2021; and
  • A retention package for all union employees, based on title and salary. The retention package would offer payments of more than $200,000, in some cases, that would be paid out mostly after the plant closes in order to incentivize employees to stay. That payment would be in addition to potential severance pay in the case of layoffs.

Entergy agreed to close the plant’s two nuclear reactors by 2021 as part of a legal settlement with the state and the environmental group Riverkeeper announced in January 2017. The state and Riverkeeper agreed to drop legal challenges against Indian Point’s relicensing, while Entergy agreed to close the plant within four years. The company said the decision to shut the plant down was driven mostly by economic factors.

Local 1-2 members are seeking a new collective bargaining agreement that would run through 2022, one year past when Indian Point is scheduled to close. Union representatives have also stressed that the plant’s workforce should be involved in the decommissioning process after Indian Point stops operations.

The union is concerned that Entergy could use an outside company for the decommissioning, as it has for past nuclear plant closures.

“Our feeling is we’re the best to do it, we’ve been with the plant since it opened,” union spokesman John Melia told the Business Journal in an interview last week.