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10-Week Strike at Nuclear Test Site Ends

November 23, 1987|United Press International

LAS VEGAS — A 10-week strike involving 3,000 union workers at the nation's nuclear weapons testing center ended Sunday as union leaders agreed to pull down their picket lines, pending ratification of remaining contracts.

"It's all over," said Jack Jeffrey, secretary-treasurer of the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council. "There won't be any picket lines Monday."

Jeffrey said the final stumbling block was removed Sunday when Culinary Local 226--the lead union in the 10-union walkout--reached agreement with Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Co., the prime contractor at the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site and the Air Force-controlled Tonopah Test Range.

Culinary officials had demanded that the phrase "for just cause" be inserted in a contract clause concerning management's right to fire employees.

Union Leaders Met

"What they did was agree to a side letter in which the company promised to use past practices," Jeffrey said. "It reads that REECo will continue to use 'fairness and equitability in . . . discipline and termination.' "

Officials of the 10 unions met for three hours Sunday to discuss the progress of negotiations and ratification votes by various unions. Also Sunday, members of the operating engineers, sheet metal workers, carpenters and painters ratified their respective contracts.

Last week, the laborers union agreed to a new contract and said members would return to work today.

Jeffrey said the electricians and pipe fitters would hold ratification meetings with their members today and the culinary union would seek a vote of approval from its members on Tuesday.

"Not everybody will be returning to work Monday," the union spokesman said. "The electricians, plumbers and the culinary (union members) still have to vote, but it is expected that they will approve. The Teamsters are still in negotiations, but they will go back to work.

Began Sept. 15

"I'm glad it's over," Jeffrey said.

The labor dispute began Sept. 15 when 600 culinary employees at the test site and test range--reportedly the home base of the top secret Stealth radar-invisible fighter-bomber--walked off the job.

When the culinary union set up picket lines, more than 3,000 of the 3,500 union work force at the two classified government facilities refused to report to work.

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