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Union reps to meet with contractor over FLETC strike

Union leaders and contractor Omni Corp. intend to meet next week to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement between the corporation and the workers the union represents.

The business manager from Operating Engineers Local 953 of Albuquerque, Barry Dickson, said Tuesday no one from Omni Corp. had reached out to speak with the union about terms for the contract.

“We are scheduled to meet either July 17 or July 18 in Albuquerque to discuss the collective bargaining contract again,” Dickson said.

A dispute between more than 50 service workers represented by Operating Engineers Local 953 at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia and Omni Corp. started June 25 after the union and the contractor failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement, a contract meant to regulate working conditions.

Officials from the FLETC facility in Artesia and Omni Corp. could not be reached for comment.

However, despite what looks to be an end in sight, Dickson said he has heard that Omni Corp. is attempting to replace the service workers.

“I don’t see how they can be bringing in new workers, since it takes at least four to six weeks to gain Homeland Security clearance that is needed at the facility,” Dickson said.

Dickson also said he believes the working conditions at the facility are getting worse.

This is due to workers not maintaining the grounds and the interior of the facility.

Training areas at FLETC such as training mats and the shooting ranges are some of the areas that another union representative, Gary Roeckel, has heard are suffering due to the strike.

“Omni is just not competent in their ability to maintain the facility,” Roeckel said. “Even before we went on strike there were issues with maintaining the facility.”

Roeckel said that what the workers want in the collective bargaining agreement is for the contractor to sign the same agreement from 2007.

Roeckel said that when Omni Corp. took over as the contractor it didn’t supply workers with the proper tools and equipment to do their jobs, which he said is one of the reasons workers at FLETC have taken the course of action they have.

Roeckel also said that despite Omni Corp. claims about meeting the contract requirements for cleaning at FLETC, union workers are acutely aware of the deficiencies.

Both Dickson and Roeckel said U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have reached out to the union.

“Senator Udall is working to ensure there is dialogue, and his office has reached out to the union to hear their concerns,” said Jennifer Talhelm, communications director for Udall.

Sarah Matott can be reached at 575-628-5546.

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©2015 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)

Visit the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.) at www.currentargus.com

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