Update: Unionized workers voted to not ratify the proposed contract by Consolidated Nuclear Security, according to Clarence Rashada.
A second vote for a potential work stoppage also met the two-thirds requirement it needed to pass, but still needs approval from the Metal Trades Department based in Washington.
A decision to accept that vote is expected to be made Friday.
Amarillo, TX - Unions representing nearly 1,200 Pantex employees are counting votes Thursday night to determine if there will be a strike.
Hundreds of unionized Pantex employees filtered in and out of the Christian Heritage Church. They voted 'yes' or 'no' on the latest labor contract offered by Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS). If they voted "no" to that, they then voted on if they wanted to strike.
After eight months of negotiations, many workers are still not happy with the latest proposed contract.
Clarence Rashada, the president of the Metal Trades Council, is representing all ten Pantex unions in their fight to keep benefits. He said the final offer CNS made Thursday morning is not the best, but it's also not the worst. "We didn't get everything we wanted, but we got a lot turned in our favor."
CNS is trying to cut operating costs at Pantex so it can save more than $3 billion taxpayer dollars over the next ten years. Workers fear those cuts come at the expense of their health benefits. "If you're coming in young, you may over 20 or 30 plus years contract some kind of illness from the hazards in some kind of way and you want to be taken care of," said Rashada.
Unions say more than 1,300 employees have fallen ill while or after working at Pantex.
If the labor contract is voted down and workers vote to strike, Rashada will take the request to the Metal Trades Department in Washington. "They will look carefully at what the issues are and make a determination of whether they are going to go ahead and okay the strike," said Rashada.
If Washington approves, Rashada said the strike would start on August 29.
The Metal Trades Council expects to have a final tally of votes around midnight. We will post the results here as soon as they come out.