Atomic Workers Reject Union, Employer Misconduct Alleged

Filed under: Labor,Labor Relations/Unions,Legal,News,Union Organizing,Unions |

On Wednesday, 29 February 2012, a two-thirds majority of technical workers at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) near Albany, New York, rejected a unionization bid, amid allegations of employer misconduct.

Union rejected

Union rejected

The vote was 87 in favor and 166 against out of 265 eligible voters, according to a statement from Local 147 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the union attempting to represent the workers.

Union Will Try Again

“Though we are disheartened by these results we hope to try again in the future,” the union said in a statement announcing the vote. “We also still believe there is enough interest among the administrative staff and engineers at KAPL to keep moving forward with their efforts.”

Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp. took over operation of KAPL, which does training and research on naval nuclear reactors, under a federal contract in 2009. Lockheed Martin had previously run the facility, which has been in operation since 1946 and was originally operated by General Electric.

Paul Shearon, secretary-treasurer of the union, told the Times-Union newspaper that Bechtel management removed union materials from the plant, and has called in small groups of workers on company time for sessions at which managers discourage unionization. The workers stay clocked in and the sessions take place during regular work hours, to avoid creating a record of anti-union meetings, he told the newspaper.

The union claimed in a 2 February 2012 letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu that Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp., the private company that operates KAPL for the U.S. Navy, is violating a 2010 presidential order that prevents using taxpayer money to discourage workers from organizing.

Bechtel has denied charges of union busting or improper interference in the union representation vote.

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