AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – A group that provides security at Savannah River Site went on strike early Tuesday morning. Members of United Professional Pro-Force of Savannah River Local 125, led by President Mathias Miller, all took part in the strike as SRS employees lined up in vehicles for an extended wait at the gate.
“We are waiting on the company to come to us to further negotiate the contract so that we can all go back to work,” Miller said.
Instead of the open parking lot, SRS employees saw a massive display of men and women holding signs demanding change.
Miller told us a little more about those union members.
“The men and women that you see right here, majority of them are veterans and all they care about at this point is getting back to work at this point,” he explained. “We hate that we were pushed in this position. Nobody standing out here wants to be here today. They either want to be out at work or at home preparing to go to work.”
The Collective Bargaining Agreement between Centerra Savannah River Site and United Professional Pro-Force of Savannah River Local 125 expired at the end of April. After more than four months of negotiations with the company, members did not ratify the new CBA and decided to strike.
Miller added, “The union itself comprises all of the security forces here on Savannah River Site aside from supervision. That includes your gate guards, you special response team, your law enforcement, all of the forces within the different areas.”
The union is calling for several changes. First, they want the company to contact them and take them back into negotiations. They want to talk about insurance and the language in the contract.
Martin Hewitt helps control the alarm system at SRS. It’s his first strike, but he’s been through seven contract negotiations with Local 125 and about five with the union before that.
“The company didn’t take it serious,” said Hewitt, Chief Negotiator. “Also the terms, I’m talking about non-economic items, the changes on restrictive language that they put in the contract. In other words, if you had the qualifications and there was an opening for your classification you were able to move. The company wants to be able to dictate when that happens.”
Centerra-SRS put trained personnel from other Department of Energy sites in place to make sure the SRS was secure during the strike.
An email went out to SRS employees Tuesday evening stating all barricades will reopen on Wednesday.