Waste Isolation Pilot Plant USW Members Approve New Four-Year Pact

Contract Includes 14 Percent Wage Increase

Contact: Lynne Hancock, USW Communications, (o) 412-562-2442, (c) 615-828-6169, lhancock@usw.org

PittsburghUnited Steelworkers (USW) Local 12-9477 members at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, N.M., overwhelmingly ratified a new four-year agreement with Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) on  Monday night that included substantial pay increases over the four-year contract term.

“This is a fair agreement for our members, Nuclear Waste Partnership and the Department of Energy that guarantees excellent wage increases, which will filter down to increased spending in the Carlsbad area and benefit the community,” said USW International Vice President Carol Landry.

“Our members work in a hazardous environment and must have special training, so they need to be compensated accordingly,” Landry added.

WIPP is a Category II facility containing special nuclear material of moderate strategic significance.

Under the contract, workers will receive a $1,800 lump sum payment immediately for ratifying the pact; a 6 percent wage increase the first year; 4 percent wage increase the second year, and a 2 percent pay increase in years 3 and 4.

Also, they will receive full retroactive pay up until the Dec. 14, 2015 date of ratification for work already completed at a lower hourly rate dating back to Aug. 1, 2015.

“Our Local 12-9477 negotiating committee was able to bargain this lucrative contract because of the solidarity of our membership and the support our local union received from New Mexico’s senators and representatives,” said Local 12-9477 President Rick Fuentes. “We could not have been effective in reaching a fair agreement without everyone’s support of the bargaining committee.”

USW Local 12-9477 represents over 250 workers at WIPP, which has taken waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons and stored it in an underground salt dome.

The USW is the largest private-sector union in North America, representing 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, energy, chemicals, transportation, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments.

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