Paducah Local 550 Program Turns Temps into Bargaining Unit Members

A Local 550 program designed to turn temporary workers into full-time bargaining unit members is now bearing fruit with 11 out of 20 temporary workers hired the past two years.

Infrastructure contractor Swift & Staley and Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership (FRNP), the prime contractor that handles deactivation and decommissioning work, participate in the union’s program, which paves the way for temporary hires to receive full-time positions.

“This program benefits the contractors, and it provides more opportunities for young workers,” said Local 550 acting president Jim Key. It also benefits the local, as more worker join the bargaining unit.

Local 550 negotiated the plan as a part of its 2018 contract with Swift and Staley. The contractor needed temporary workers for its roads and grounds work and security and lighting operations. Thanks to the agreement, after a temporary worker completes his or her assignment, the worker is placed on the layoff/recall list and is available for full-time employment.

“If any site contractor has openings, they have to hire the temps on the layoff/recall list before they can go to the street (hire outside),” Key said.

He said the temporary workers are paid at the entry-level rate, plus a $6 stipend because they do not receive benefits while they are temp workers. They also pay union dues, accumulate seniority and complete their probationary period while they are temps. 

“After they complete 720 hours of temporary scopes of work, they become members of Local 550, and they carry over their seniority and company service credit when they obtain full-time employment,” Key said.

He said that new employees have not been hired at the site in a long time. With a number of workers expected to retire in three to five years, the union’s program is critical to bring in new employees.

Given the success with Swift and Staley and FRNP, the local is in discussions now with the third contractor at the site, Mid-America Conversion Services, regarding the hiring of temporary workers and making them full time for the contractor’s DUF6 project.

Photo: Dept. of Energy

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