AIKEN - The majority of employees working for the New York-based Krog Corp. at Savannah River Site are from Georgia or South Carolina, a company official says, not other parts of the country as protesting union officials have claimed.
Krog interviewed union workers as part of its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to build a waste storage facility valued at between $40 million and $60 million, but it didn't hire any because they didn't meet company qualifications, said Bruce Vona, the project manager for Krog.
However, almost 80 percent of the 91 workers hired are from Georgia and South Carolina, he said. Of those, 59 are laborers and 14 are supervisors, some of whom previously worked at the site, although Mr. Vona said he didn't know how many were from the Aiken-Augusta area.
Members of the 14 unions who do work at SRS are protesting because DOE didn't hire Graves Construction Services in Jackson, which would have hired all local workers who invest in the local economy, union officials say.
Tom Jenkins, a business representative for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America in Augusta, previously said he was told Krog planned to hire mostly out-of-state workers.
Mr. Vona said he told Mr. Jenkins that "we'd be hiring people from everywhere." He said workers not from Georgia or South Carolina had come from previous Krog jobs in Florida, New York and West Virginia.
One union official questioned whether workers being counted from Georgia and South Carolina are really from the area.
"DOE is fabricating numbers," said Dennis Rocque, the secretary and treasurer of the Augusta Building and Construction Trades Council. "Just because they come down here and lease a house don't make them from here."
Mr. Rocque also questioned where Krog would buy its building supplies, saying that Graves would have made purchases with local merchants.
Mr. Vona said some of the supplies needed to build a facility containing nuclear waste couldn't be bought here, though concrete was being purchased from a local supplier.
"It's a global marketplace, not an Aiken, S.C., marketplace," Mr. Vona said.
Union members say they plan to continue their protests outside SRS's gates indefinitely.
Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.