SECURITY OFFICERSStrike Looms at Nuclear Power Plants

Published 2 April 2024

Security officers at nuclear power plants operated by Constellation energy company may go on strike after the union representing them and the company have so far failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Under federal law, nuclear plants must operate under a costly contingency plan in the run-up to and during a strike, and the union highlights the fact that cost of the contingency plan far exceeds the cumulative cost to the company of the annual wage increases to the security officers during the life of the contract. 

Baltimore, Maryland-based Constellation Energy describes itself as the U.S. largest producer of carbon-free energy to millions of homes, institutional customers, the public sector, and businesses, including three fourths of Fortune 100 companies.

The company relies on nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar generation facilities to power more than 16 million homes and businesses, providing 10 percent of all clean power on the grid in the U.S. Nearly 90 percent of the company’s more than 32,400 megawatts of capacity and annual output are carbon-free.

Constellation operates fourteen nuclear plants.

The security officers in four of Constellation’s fourteen nuclear plants are represented by the National Union of Nuclear Security Officers (NUNSO), a division of United Federation LEOS-PBA. These plants are Braidwood Generation Station, in Barceville, IL; Lasalle County Generation Station, in Marseilles, IL.; Clinton Power Station, in Clinton, IL; and R. E. Gina nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, NY.

The security officers at Braidwood have been represented by NUNSO for the last three years, and NUNSO has organized the security officers at LaSalle back in November of 2023.

Security officers at one other Constellation nuclear plant, the Dresden Generating Station in Morris, IL, are represented by SEIU Local 1 in Chicago. They are presently negotiating with Constellation over new contracts and are in the same position as NUNSO is in.

When a contract with employees at a nuclear plant is about to expire, the company operating the plant must, at least thirty days before the expiration if a contract, notify the National Regulatory Commission (NRC) of a possible strike. Usually, the union representing the employees would sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) extension agreement with the company to extend the CBA for at least 30 to 60 days.

This is done to avoid forcing the company to implement a contingency plan, which is costly. The estimated cost of continency plans to the operator are more than $53,000 a day, and upward of $371,000 a week, per plant.

The negotiations between Constellation and NUNSO have been going on for a while, and things are coming to a head in the coming weeks, with the possibility of a strike and several of the plants looming.