Some PNNL Workers Picket Outside Anniversary Celebration - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Some PNNL Workers Picket Outside Anniversary Celebration

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Some workers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory picketed in front of PNNL's anniversary celebration at the Toyota Center Wednesday. Some workers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory picketed in front of PNNL's anniversary celebration at the Toyota Center Wednesday.
KENNEWICK, WA - Some workers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory picketed in front of PNNL's anniversary celebration at the Toyota Center Wednesday.

Workers called it an informational picket to raise awareness of sub-standard wages and benefits.

For the past 18 months, the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council has been re-negotiating contracts with their employer and they have yet to reach a deal.

These people say, they want to stay on the similar pension plans offered to Hanford workers, not a new plan offered by Battelle that they say could change without their control.

Calling it a war on wages, they believe they're fighting for fair pay. 

"Battelle's in there patting themselves on the back and telling everybody how great they are and we just hope some people can see the other side of these things. they're making a lot of money and they want to balance the books on our shoulders," Fred Rumsey, Atomic Metal Trades Council said. 

Some of these picketers said they believe there is a disconnect between the trades workers and the people in the labs.

They say they are not protesting.

Rather peacefully informing people that they would like to keep their wages and benefits consistent. 

Greg Koller of Battelle sent us the following statement regarding the picketing:

"Battelle's offer is generous and fair.  It's highly competitive in the marketplace. Battelle is offering both a pension plan and a 401K something very few companies are doing. Even with the proposed changes to the pension plan, Battelle will continue to offer of of the best total compensation packages in the  nation.

Changes are required to ensure long-term viability and affordability of our benefits programs

These changes were applied to Battelle's 4000 on-bargaining unit staff a couple of years ago.

Background:     

Battelle employs about 240 (243) “bargaining unit” (union represented) staff at PNNL.  These staff make up about 6% of the PNNL workforce.  They provide facility support and maintenance services at PNNL and they are represented by the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council, or HAMTC. 

Battelle's most recent three-year contract with the HAMTC expired on March 31, 2013, but several extensions extended the contract while negotiations with HAMTC for a new contract continued.  The latest extension expired on August 20, 2013.  However, Battelle continues to honor the most recent contract. 

Negotiations with HAMTC for a new contract have been underway since February 2013.  While tentative agreements on non-economic issues were reached early, the two sides have been at a stalemate over economic issues.  After more than four months of negotiations, the two sides brought in a federal mediator in July and August 2013, and completed five sessions.  After these mediation sessions ended with no resolution, Battelle and then HAMTC made additional proposals and counterproposals. These included an offer from Battelle which accepted HAMTC's longstanding proposal to keep their health benefits as they have been under previous labor agreements and not move them into the Battelle medical and dental plans as previously proposed until three years after the beginning of the new contract.  However, Battelle continued to propose that bargaining unit staff be moved away from the Hanford Joint Employers Pension & Savings Plan into Battelle's PNNL pension and savings plans as part of an effort to save the government several million dollars over time and make the Lab viable and competitive for the long-term. " 


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