Sunday, February 9, 2003

Striking nuclear workers await ruling



The Associated Press

PADUCAH, Ky. - A ruling is expected Monday on whether striking nuclear plant workers were illegally picketing on a nearby roadway.

Nearly half of the 1,250 employees at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky went on strike Tuesday morning in protest over wages, health care and pension issues.

United States Enrichment Corp. operates the plant - the nation's only plant that enriches uranium for commercial nuclear power.

Wednesday, the company filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging picketers' presence on a road east of the plant was preventing some "neutral" contractors from entering the building.

Joe Artiles, resident officer for the National Labor Relations Board in Nashville, Tenn., said Friday that he had finished taking evidence from plant operator USEC Inc. and Local 5-550 of Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International. He said he forwarded the evidence to Regional Director Ronald Hooks in Memphis, Tenn., who anticipated a formal ruling Monday.

"By then it could be resolved informally," Artiles said. "If not, hopefully we'll have some kind of decision."

Artiles said earlier that if the road was designated for "neutral" contractors, the picketing probably was illegal.

Union local President Leon Owens said Friday that he would not move the picketers from the road this weekend.

"We have not received any official contact from the company in regard to a decision from the regional director," he said. "Once a decision is received, I would have to confer with our PACE International general counsel and regional vice president before embarking on a course of action."

Picket sites were unchanged by Friday's decision by the Bush administration to raise the national terror alert.




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Striking nuclear workers await ruling