News

Livermore: Lab workers strike amid contract negotiations

Trade union members oppose on-call requirements without bargaining

Trade workers at Lawrence Livermore National Lab picket Tuesday outside the lab in Livermore on the first day of a three-day strike over working conditions. (Photo courtesy of University of Professional & Technical Employees Local 11).

Trade workers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory began a three-day strike Tuesday after their workplace allegedly required on-call hours without negotiations.

The 235 workers, all union members of the Society of Professionals, Scientists and Engineers, will stand in front of the lab's gates from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for three days this week in hopes that the lab will open up room for bargaining.

They make up a small percentage of the 6,000 workers at the lab, but union chief bargainer Steve Balke said they cover essential departments to make the lab run.

"We're all skilled trades. We're electricians, plumbers, carpenters, sheet metal workers, welders, boiler guys, handling heavy equipment, security alarms, fire alarms," Balke said. "We might be a small group but we are an integral part of this lab. We want them to know that, because right now they don't treat us that way."

Balke said on-call hours at the laboratory were voluntary for years, until workers ran into restrictions and were less incentivized to sign up.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support PleasantonWeekly.com for as little as $5/month.

Join

"Most of the guys that said, 'You know what, I'm tired of jumping through hoops to go see my dentist or to go pick up my kids from school,'" Balke said. "We didn't have enough people, they didn't have enough to cover the on-call, so they said they're making it mandatory, along with those same restrictions."

In response, the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board for bad faith negotiations. The board has since issued a complaint against the lab for a violation of labor laws.

"(The board) saw enough merit in that to take and bring charges against them," Balke said. "We actually have a court date with (the lab) in October with the National Labor Relations Board about their bad faith bargaining charge."

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says it has negotiated in good faith since September 2019 on the matter at hand, but negotiations have remained separated by "economic issues and management rights," acting lab spokesperson Breanna Bishop said. The laboratory does not expect the strike to have a great impact on site operations.

"We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement," Bishop said.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Looking for more Livermore stories? The Livermore Vine will be your new source of vital news and information. Sign up to be among the first to get our daily local news headlines sent to your inbox for free.

Follow PleasantonWeekly.com and the Pleasanton Weekly on Twitter @pleasantonnews, Facebook and on Instagram @pleasantonweekly for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stay informed on important political news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

Livermore: Lab workers strike amid contract negotiations

Trade union members oppose on-call requirements without bargaining

by /

Uploaded: Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 8:30 am

Trade workers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory began a three-day strike Tuesday after their workplace allegedly required on-call hours without negotiations.

The 235 workers, all union members of the Society of Professionals, Scientists and Engineers, will stand in front of the lab's gates from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for three days this week in hopes that the lab will open up room for bargaining.

They make up a small percentage of the 6,000 workers at the lab, but union chief bargainer Steve Balke said they cover essential departments to make the lab run.

"We're all skilled trades. We're electricians, plumbers, carpenters, sheet metal workers, welders, boiler guys, handling heavy equipment, security alarms, fire alarms," Balke said. "We might be a small group but we are an integral part of this lab. We want them to know that, because right now they don't treat us that way."

Balke said on-call hours at the laboratory were voluntary for years, until workers ran into restrictions and were less incentivized to sign up.

"Most of the guys that said, 'You know what, I'm tired of jumping through hoops to go see my dentist or to go pick up my kids from school,'" Balke said. "We didn't have enough people, they didn't have enough to cover the on-call, so they said they're making it mandatory, along with those same restrictions."

In response, the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board for bad faith negotiations. The board has since issued a complaint against the lab for a violation of labor laws.

"(The board) saw enough merit in that to take and bring charges against them," Balke said. "We actually have a court date with (the lab) in October with the National Labor Relations Board about their bad faith bargaining charge."

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says it has negotiated in good faith since September 2019 on the matter at hand, but negotiations have remained separated by "economic issues and management rights," acting lab spokesperson Breanna Bishop said. The laboratory does not expect the strike to have a great impact on site operations.

"We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement," Bishop said.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.