Officials from the parent company of New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant and union brass are working to negotiate a new contract before a midnight deadline. Utility workers remain set to strike if they cannot reach an agreement.
The initial deadline was midnight Wednesday but, as Local 1-2 Utility Workers of America spokesman John Melia says, that’s been pushed back.
“As the midnight deadline approached on January 17th, there was some progress at the negotiating table, and President Slevin made the decision to extend the deadline 24 hours,” Melia says. “He made that decision at about 1:30 this morning, January 18th.”
Jerry Nappi is spokesman for parent company Entergy.
“Our representatives who’ve been meeting with the union felt it was in our interest, mutual interest, with the union to continue the discussions,” Nappi says. “So that’s how that works, and they’ve been meeting throughout the day today, on Thursday.”
Melia says union members want a new collective bargaining agreement through 2022, one year after the Buchanan-based plant’s scheduled closure.
“Entergy does have a pattern in closing other facilities of bringing in outside contractors,” Melia says. “We feel that’s a danger to public safety, that our workers who have worked for decades at Indian Point know it best and are best trained, equipped and professional to handle the decommissioning of Indian Point.”
Both Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have contingency plans in place should union workers strike and have been prepping for the possibility. Again, Melia.
“The bottom line is Entergy wants out of New York state. They want to go back to Louisiana and, frankly, blowing a hole in the local economy and everything else is of no matter to them or their shareholders,” Melia says. “The management of this corporation cares for its bottom line only. And we want responsible, safe management and a safe future for our members and the people of Westchester County and the greater New York area.”
“Obviously that’s not true. Entergy has owned Indian Point since 2000, 2001,” says Nappi. “It’s invested an enormous amount of resources into the plant to make it a safe operating reliable plant It fought a license renewal battle against the state for many, many years. It has great relations with its employees, has great employees, period, who are compensated well for what they do.”
When the announcement came in January 2017 that Indian Point would close, Entergy Wholesale Commodities president Bill Mohl said the decision to shut down was Entergy’s alone and due to economics. Mohl announced the closure separately from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Melia says Entergy will blame the union if workers walk.
“We’re just asking for a fair share of the fruits of our labor,” says Melia.
Negotiations affect nearly 400 utility union members, from operations to maintenance. Security is not affected.