Workers at the US Duane Arnold nuclear plant in Palo IA may go on strike soon after the plant owner attempted to further degrade working conditions. Owner NextEra attempted to cut workers health insurance, make overtime mandatory and included a paltry wage increase. NextEra has been highly profitable yet seeks to erode workers conditions citing similar erosion at other plants in the industry.
Workers told that the plant is already understaffed and many are already working voluntary overtime to help out NextEra Energy. Overworking the people on the front line of nuclear safety could have drastic consequences. It has been found in many other industries like transportation that worker response and safety erodes with long work shifts.
NextEra claims they will attempt to run the plant with managers and bringing in contract workers if a strike happens. Having a nuclear power plant operated by a crew that is not familiar with the plant and does not know the details of operating that plant can be very dangerous. This exact problem was cited in the ongoing worker lock out at Pilgrim nuclear plant. Contract workers were lied to about the situation with the union and of the terms they would be working under. They were not informed that Entergy had locked out workers, that they would be crossing a picket line and were not given promised housing or hotel accommodations. One contract worker at Pilgrim said this of the current situation of contract workers and managers trying to run the plant
“I am saying if there was a catastrophe on a scale like Fukushima, management would not handle it the way they should.“
Last year Nine Mile Point nuclear plant owned by Entergy had a strike that happened under similar conditions where worker conditions were trying to be eroded and the plant was run by managers without recent operator experience and brought in workers not familiar with the plant.
Contract workers in the US are warning each other about dishonest worker recruitment going on for Duane Arnold to attempt to find workers in case of a strike. The post tells workers to not jeopardize the contract negotiations of the plant workers
These ongoing strikes raise concerns in light of all the worker abuses coming out of Japan’s nuclear industry. The US claims to have a better system yet we see graffiti inside reactors, workers being pressed to work overtime and an erosion of worker pay & benefits that seems to be systematic in the US nuclear power industry. The real situation at US nuclear plants is unknown. The industry gives the public platitudes like “safety is our #1 priority” yet the entire private sector system is quite closed. The real safety at plants is a closely held secret yet we see hints come out in these strikes and major failures like Ft. Calhoun where all sorts of systematic management and personnel issues come out.
Fact Sheet On Duane Arnold: http://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/pdf_redesign/duanearnoldfactsheet.pdf
Many thanks to Longtimelurker, without her research efforts this article would not have been possible.
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