The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Tuesday, June 19, 2001

USEC security deal fortifies ties
The new agreement between USEC and the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant clarifies when security officers can use firearms.

By Joe Walker

A new agreement with USEC Inc. clarifying when security officers can use firearms has eased strained union-management relations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, said union President John Driskill.

"We see all this as a positive change in our relationship with USEC, and we hope it bodes well in the last few months preceding discussions about a new contract," he said.

Driskill said he expressed those feelings to USEC President and Chief Executive Officer William "Nick" Timbers during Timbers' visit to Paducah last month celebrating the plant's upgrade to stand-alone status.

The five-year contract with Security Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 111 is up for renewal March 1, 2002. The local has 36 members.

Driskill credited the U.S. Enrichment Corp. with meeting the union "in the middle" to reach the revised agreement, which went into effect Monday. It defines when officers are allowed to be armed, such as when patrolling the plant perimeter fence. Individual patrol officers may be armed, as may one of two officers manning a post.

In recent years, Driskill criticized the company for what he saw as the erosion of officers' firearms use and arrest powers, leaving them and the uranium-enrichment plant vulnerable, in his view.

"The agreement is designed to limit the possibility of that happening," he said. "We think it's a good agreement. It will not only safeguard us, but safeguard the plant."

USEC also agreed to allow the security force to upgrade firearms this summer, which has further improved union-management rapport, Driskill said. The union also will resume joint training with outside law enforcement.

A year ago, Driskill criticized USEC for plans to eliminate some jobs in the security force amid cost-cutting layoffs plantwide. Since then, two officers have left the company and two others have been promoted to management, but four officers have been hired to fill those spots, he said.

"This is concrete proof that USEC is wanting to keep us around and that makes us feel a lot better about our jobs," Driskill said. "I think things are looking better now than probably they have in the last 12 years."

USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle said the company is "always pleased" at being able to work with employees to find mutually beneficial solutions.

"These changes in our security approach are an excellent example of that kind of teamwork," she said. "Security is one of our most important responsibilities and we continue to look for ways to improve the way we protect our people, materials and property."