A Boston employment dispute at a local power plant has resulted in stalled production, a worker lock-out and mounting tensions on both sides.
Massachusetts employment attorneys know that when dealing with labor unions, companies need to have aggressive legal muscle on their side. Still, the tone and manner of approach can be everything in these cases. The goal is to avoid a soured relationship, while still maintaining the company’s best interests.
That’s not happening here.
It involves the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth and the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369.
Both sides are accusing the other of compromising public safety, and politicians are even beginning to weigh in on the issue, following management’s decision to lock out union workers when contract talks dissolved for the second time in as many weeks.
Workers have taken to picketing, and legislators are calling out company officials, saying that barring those employees from entering has heightened security concerns at the nuclear site.
However, company officials have countered that the ball is actually in the union’s court, as it can’t have its workers on the job without a contract, due to mandatory federal license requirements. The company further said it has been bending over backward to negotiate with the union, offering wage increases and high-value health benefit plans. The parent company, Entergy, rakes in about $1 million each day from this power plant, and recently received a 20-year license renewal for its operation. It runs 10 others across the country.
Union members say the workers aren’t on strike, but they have been picketing in at least three different locations near the plant.
The union even took it a step further by filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging five specific charges alleging, among other things, that security at the company has been secretly audio and video-taping picketing workers and that management has made threatening and coercive statements to union workers in recent weeks.
Additionally, the company is accused of altering the shift rotations of union workers without providing adequate notice, failing to provide all the relevant and necessary information to various union requests and altering health insurance and retirement plans for union workers.
Even if your company isn’t dealing with a union, contract dispute issues can quickly become a public relations nightmare. There may be a temptation by company officials, particularly those in small businesses, to handle these alone. But an experienced attorney is going to be able to accurately express your legal standing and reasoning to any outside inquirers.
Employment and business law at both the state and federal levels can be complex, and you may not even be aware of all your legal obligations to your employees – or your legal rights as a company. This is where having an attorney with experience is going to ultimately pay off, whether you’re working to establish employment and business contracts or settle disputes with your workers or other companies.
A Boston business law firm, The Brown Law Firm, LLC, has offices in Belmont and Boston. For a free and confidential consultation, call 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.
Mass. nuke plant labor dispute leads to lockout, Staff Report, Fox 25 News