LOS ALAMOS – Talks between the security workers who protect Los Alamos National Laboratory and the subcontractor that employs them have broken down.
Union officials announced Wednesday that their negotiating team walked out after learning that security company SOC-Los Alamos did not have the ability to deliver better retirement benefits it had promised the union it would pursue.
Union agent Chris Mandril accused the company of negotiating in bad faith. He said the union has learned SOC doesn’t have the authority to work directly with federal officials to set contract terms.
The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
LANL officials said recently, as the bargaining between SOC-LA and the guards’ union became difficult, that a “contingency force” was being trained to provide security at the lab should the union for security fail to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with SOC-Los Alamos.
The contingency force consisting of SOC supervisors and security personnel from the nation’s other weapons complex sites began training last month. LANL spokesman Kevin Roark said then that if there is a work stoppage, SOC and the lab are “fully prepared to execute the contingency plan and will ensure the Laboratory remains open and secure.”
“We have been negotiating in good faith all along,” Chris Mandril, business agent for International Guards Union of America Local 69, said Wednesday. “Even as SOC-LA threatened to lock our guys out and take away their paychecks, we stayed at the table and tried to do right by our members and the company. SOC-LA hit us with a sucker punch. We have to walk away.”
“SOC-LA negotiated in bad faith,” said Mandril in a news release: “It’s that simple. Our guys took them at their word and believed that they would work directly with the folks in D.C. and NNSA Albuquerque Site office to pursue better retirement benefits for the guards. Now, they turn around and say that they can’t do what they promised.”
LANL provided this statement:
“The Laboratory is not a party to the negotiations which are between the union and SOC-LA. The Laboratory and SOC-LA are continually revising and updating contingency planning for a variety of personnel structures.
“The Laboratory is confident that our people, facilities, and material will continue to be fully protected. Our contingency planning relies on current Laboratory employees who are fully trained and certified to act as Protective Force officers, SOC-LA supervisors and other non-union employees, along with officers from other NNSA (National Nuclear Safety Administration) sites that are trained and certified to supplement the force.”
The union said Wednesday‘s walkout was not an end to talks with SOC-LA.
“This is for right now,” Mandril said. “We need to regroup and decide how to proceed. We will come back to the table. But when you find out you’ve been bending over backward to work with someone who isn’t even being honest with you, you have to walk away for a while.”