The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Wednesday, August 08, 2001

PACE negotiations scheduled to resume
The talks will be the first since Thursday,when PACE members turned down USEC's contract offer by almost 99 percent.

By Joe Walker

Bargaining was set to resume at 9 a.m. today, less than a week after union workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant soundly rejected a contract offer from U.S. Enrichment Corp.

David Fuller, president of Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Local 5-550, said PACE Regional Vice President Gerald Johnston would join the negotiations at J.R.'s Executive Inn. Johnston's jurisdiction is Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

"We've been accompanied by an international representative all the way in bargaining, but we haven't had an international officer involved until now," Fuller said.

The talks will be the first since Thursday, when nearly 670 union workers rejected a contract proposal by what Fuller described as roughly a 99 percent margin. Union officials agreed to keep working under the old, five-year contract, which expired July 31.

Fuller said there are no plans to strike, but that could change if the union feels it has reached a stalemate.

"We'll stay (in negotiations) as long as there's any progress or hope that we'll continue to negotiate," he said. "We've agreed we'll give one day's notice before a strike, and we intend to honor that agreement."

The last offer was rejected because of what Fuller called "substandard" wage and benefit provisions, and because the contract would have ended after a year if USEC failed to accomplish any of three goals regarding the purchase of Russian uranium.

Fuller said it was unfair to tie work at the plant to the Russian deal, but USEC officials said that without its success, the company might have to cut costs. USEC says "blending" the higher-cost uranium enriched at the plant with the cheaper Russian uranium helps preserve plant jobs.