Amarillo, TX - Pantex said it was business as usual Monday despite nearly 1,200 employees not showing up to work.
Hundreds of metal trades workers lined Highway 60 as the sun rose so employees going into work at Pantex could see they are standing strong with solidarity.
Some cars honked to show support and picketers waved back, showing a mutual respect despite the circumstances.
"Typically what you think of union politics is of thugs and tough guys, but that mentality is not really here," said David Grant, a production technician at Pantex. "We're just good Texas people."
The Metal Trades Council (MTC) union members are fighting to keep their health benefits due to the hazardous working conditions that come with the job. "There's no sense to get rowdy about it," said Grant. "We're just here to stand and show them what we're standing for."
During the strike, the Pantex Guard Union (PGU) is setting up a food bank to help their fellow coworkers even though they can't stand beside them on the picket line. "Because in 2007 when we were on strike, several members of the Metal Trades Council put up a food bank for us to help us while we were going through our strike," said Randy Schlegel, a member of the PGU. "We wanted to do something to show support and solidarity for them."
The PGU will be collecting donations every Monday from 6 to 8 at a different grocery store location because the union saw first hand the impact a strike can have on families. "We had a lot of folks that had small children and the food bank was a big help in getting us through that," said Schlegel.
Contract negotiations between the MTC and Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), contracted to run Pantex, are at a standstill, so it is unknown how long the strike will last. "Pantex operations remain safe and stable," said George Rangel, a spokesperson for CNS. "Work continues to ensure that the safety and security of our workforce, neighboring communities and environment are maintained at the highest levels."
Union members will picket 24 hours a day, completing four-hour shifts until the strike ends.
Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10