Idaho National Laboratory Workers to Begin Contract Talks in April

Local 652 at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will begin negotiations April 5 with the site’s new cleanup contractor for an agreement that will cover roughly 565 USW-represented workers.

The Department of Energy (DOE) in 2021 chose Idaho Environment Coalition to be the Idaho Cleanup Project contractor, replacing Fluor Idaho LLC.

Idaho Environment Coalition’s 10-year, $6.4 billion contract with DOE began Jan. 1, 2022. Because it was a follow-on contract, the contractor recognized the union as the bargaining agent and accepted the existing labor agreement, which expires May 6, 2022.

Pictured: Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at Idaho National Laboratory. Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Energy.

In preparation for negotiations, Local 652 Vice President Henry Littlefield said the bargaining committee sent a questionnaire to the membership to solicit input on their priorities and urged them to get their responses in as soon as possible, so the committee can use the members’ feedback to create bargaining proposals.

“I am sure that wage improvements will be one of the important items to be discussed,” Littlefield said.

He said he would personally like to see the cleanup unit get similar wage increases to what the union gained last year in its negotiations with the Battelle Energy Alliance for its main agreement. Many workers in that unit obtained substantial raises.

Littlefield said the naval reactor facility is a new decontamination and decommission project on the INL reservation and that USW workers will play a role in cleaning up the hazards.

Under the DOE contract with Idaho Environment Coalition, USW workers at the Idaho Nuclear Technical and Engineering Center will continue handling the operations for spent nuclear fuel, waste management, waste shipments to other states, liquid waste and Calcine disposition, as well as utilities and maintenance work.

The DOE agreement with the cleanup contractor also has Local 652 workers continuing to handle waste operations and maintenance at the Radioactive Waste Management Complex, and once the waste operations work is completed, the USW workers will also handle some of the decontamination and decommission work.

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