Originally created 05/26/01

SRS workers will protest contractor



A union will picket at Savannah River Site next week to protest a dispute with a contractor at the federal nuclear-weapons site.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 772 plans to picket Tuesday and Wednesday to draw attention to its effort to reach a deal with Primesouth Inc., said Lindsay Nelson, an organizer for the union.

Primesouth, a subsidiary of SCANA Corp., works at the site's D-Area powerhouse for fellow SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas, said Susan Clements, Primesouth's manager of business development and operations.

SCE&G operates the powerhouse for the U.S. Department of Energy. The plant produces electricity and steam for site operations, said Rick Ford, an Energy Department spokesman at SRS.

Some workers at the plant voted to unionize in March 1999, Mr. Nelson said, but efforts to reach a collective bargaining agreement with Primesouth have been unsuccessful. An agreement would affect 45 to 50 employees, he said.

"The workers at Primesouth and the local have requested that we do an informational picket in order to bring the company's attitude to the public," Mr. Nelson said.

An SCE&G spokesman said the company had made an honest effort to reach a deal.

"We feel like we've negotiated with them in an open manner with a good package on the table," Brian Duncan said.

One picket line will be located in the site's designated "free speech area," located near the junction of South Carolina Highway 125 and SRS Road 1, Mr. Nelson said.

The union also intends to staff a second picket line in public rights-of-way near the site's New Ellenton barricade, Mr. Nelson said.

The protesters are allowed to use the free speech area from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Mr. Ford said. They also have been permitted to picket there June 4, 6, 11, 13, 18 and 20, he said.

Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409 or bhaddock@augustachronicle.com.