Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO

The Metal Trades Department is a trade department of the AFL-CIO. It was chartered in 1908 to coordinate negotiating, organizing and legislative efforts of affiliated metalworking and related crafts and trade unions.

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Ron’s Rants

Nuclear Workers at DOE Amarillo Plant Vote to Strike

Amarillo, TX–After more than seven months at the bargaining table with Consolidated Nuclear Security Pantex (CNS), 87 percent of the unionized workers at the Amarillo, Texas, facility have voted to strike. The Amarillo Metal Trades Council represents workers at the Department of Energy (DOE) Pantex facility. Workers have been in contract negotiations with CNS Pantex since January 2015. In early August, CNS Pantex representatives put forth what the company called their “best, last and final offer.” That proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by a 10-1 margin by the workers. The ratification vote took place late last night, with 93 percent of those eligible to vote casting ballots. Since voting down the last contract offer, the Amarillo Metal Trades Council negotiating team and company representatives have met, but the two sides remain at an impasse. “Wages are not the issue,” says Clarence Rashada, president of the Metal Trades Council. “Benefits, sick leave, medical coverage, prescription drugs, those are the issues.” Rashada pointed out that the employer is asking to eliminate defined benefit pensions for new hires and to increase healthcare costs for retirees. Workers at CNS Pantex are responsible for the nuclear weapons life extension programs; weapons dismantlement; development, testing, and fabrication of high explosives components; and storage and surveillance of plutonium pits. “These workers face dangerous situations every day when they go to work. The Department of Energy and CNS Pantex know that these workers risk exposure to cancer-causing chemicals daily, yet the DOE has imposed a ridiculous policy upon its contractors that limits benefits based on a flawed market-based value formula,” says Ron Ault, president of the Metal Trades...

The Effect of DOE Policy 350.1 on Representation and Morale On Union-Represented Contractor Personnel

In 1998, the Procurement office of the Department of Energy (DOE) developed a “policy” regarding contractor reimbursement for employee fringe benefits.

Order 350.1, establishes a so-called “market-based” formula. The order directs that a Benefit Value Study (BenVal) must show that the per capita cost of a benefit plan is no more than five percent higher than the average value of the assessed benefits package of similar organizations in the same industry – also known as comparator organizations. It requires DOE contractors to survey the benefit packages of “comparator” companies in a region in order to establish cost parameters within which the contractor establishes the “value” of pension and health care benefits. The policy explicitly limits contractor reimbursements to 105 percent of the “value” that this survey establishes. If that cost is more than five percent of the other organization’s plan then the contractor has to submit “a corrective action plan to achieve conformance” to a DOE contracting officer.

The Union Advantage

Union members earn better wages and benefits than workers who aren’t union members. On average, union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts.

Unionized workers are 60 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions.

More than 79 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but less than half of nonunion workers do. Unions help employers create a more stable, productive workforce—where workers have a say in improving their jobs.

Unions help bring workers out of poverty and into the middle class. In fact, in states where workers don’t have union rights, workers’ incomes are lower.

  • Wages are 27% higher than non-union 27%
  • Unionized workers are 60 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions 60%
  • More than 79 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits 79%

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