Bettis Atomic Laboratory workers improve site’s health and safety program

Local 10-5852 members at the Bettis Atomic Laboratory in West Mifflin, Pa., boosted their health and safety program through new contract language, management participation in the USW’s health and safety conference and training through the USW Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC).

The four-year contract, which members ratified last fall, includes wage increases in each year of the deal, as well as a ratification bonus, salary adjustments for some job classes and improvement to benefits.

One of the most significant improvements to the contract language covers health and safety. Both parties completely rewrote the health and safety language to address workers’ safety concerns and recognize the joint labor-management health and safety committee.

“Thanks to District 10 and TMC, we are full steam ahead with the USW safety program,” said Local 10-5852 President Dennis Luczak. “Health and safety before the contract was about management making the rules and having all the safety input. Now, we have a monthly joint labor-management safety meeting where we can take our safety concerns.”

He said that contractor management now sees the value in the USW’s health and safety resources. Fluor Marine Propulsion, LLC runs the laboratory for the U.S. government-owned research and development facility.

“Our environmental, safety and health managers spoke so highly of all the USW members they met at the union’s health and safety conference last September,” Luczak said.

TMC safety training

The Bettis lab designs and develops nuclear power for the U.S. Navy.  It is part of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, a joint U.S. Navy-Department of Energy program. At the West Mifflin site, which is located about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, engineers design everything from reactors to aircraft carriers. The lab was one of the leaders in creating the nuclear navy.

“We still have on our site the first design of nuclear reactors for the residential sector,” Luczak said.

He said the total number of employees is over 2,500 and is growing. Local 10-5852 has 104 members who work in operations and maintenance.

The local underwent safety training last fall. The first day was for union-only training, and focused on improving communication and creating an effective health and safety committee. On the second day, the joint health and safety committee met and learned how to conduct hazard mapping from worker-trainers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The local also plans to send members to the nuclear health and safety representative training that TMC will conduct later this year.

Luczak said he sees a positive change concerning the joint health and safety committee.

“Members know that their safety concerns don’t fall on deaf ears. The committee gets them a result as soon as possible. In addition to the safety committee members, the grievance officers also do a great job of keeping members safe.”

Read the original article at the USW website.