Strike Ends at Nuke Plants as Workers OK 4-Year Deal

Workers at the Nine Mile One and Two nuclear plants in Scriba begin returning to their jobs today, after ratifying a contract offered by Constellation Nuclear over the weekend.

“We should be very proud of what we have accomplished,” Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 97 Ted Skerpon wrote in announcing the results of the vote. “You should hold your head high.”

Workers voted 395-64 in favor of the contract offer Tuesday at the Oswego Elks Club.

Union officials said the four-year contract provides raises of two percent a year and resolved the dispute over a pension issue that was the main reason for the strike.

Three weeks ago, the vote was very different.  Union workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize their leaders to call a strike.  When last-ditch talks with a federal mediator failed, the strike began.

“We are pleased to welcome our represented employees back to the station and look forward to working together as a team to continue to operate the facility at high levels of safety, quality and efficiency,” said Sam Belcher, vice president, Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, in a written statement. “The needs of both sides were met in the agreement ratified by the employees of the station.”

Constellation maintains that the new contract was in line with the contract that had been rejected.

“Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief today at this terrific news,” said State Senator Patty Ritchie, who was in Oswego on other business and came to the Elks Club to hear the results of the voting and to offer congratulations.

She and Assemblyman Will Barclay had urged the company and union to return to negotiations.

“This is good news,” Barclay said in a statement. “In meeting with Constellation and IBEW local union workers last week, it was clear the main objective was to get back to work. I am pleased the parties were able to come to the table and agree on a rational plan going forward so everyone can go back to work.”

Officials had been concerned that a long, bitter strike would affect chances for a fourth nuclear plant at Nine Mile Point. Constellation Nuclear had begun the process of seeking federal approval to build Nine Mile Three, but put it on hold after its plan for new nuclear plant in Maryland received the incentives the company had been seeking.

Constellation will bring back workers in groups of 60-100, starting today.

They’ll be briefed on what has happened since they’ve been gone and on the company’s expectations for the future.

All of the approximately 450 union members who went on strike will be back on the job by Saturday, according to a schedule posted on the union’s website.