Amarillo, TX - As the Pantex strike enters its third week, a federal agency is now stepping in to help end it.
Contract negotiations between Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), the operator of Pantex, and the Metal Trades Council (MTC) have been at a standstill for weeks.
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) Director Allison Beck said she is sending in a mediator to Pantex to bring the conflicting parties back to the bargaining table.
"While FMCS has been monitoring the situation closely and mediation is normally a completely voluntary process, we cannot stand by and let this critical nuclear weapons facility continue to experience a work stoppage," said Beck in a statement. "In the absence of the parties scheduling a session on their own, it is our obligation to extend every effort to help the parties bridge their differences. Accordingly, I have asked FMCS Deputy Director Scot L Beckenbaugh, who has a well-earned reputation of successfully assisting parties in the resolution of complex disputes, to intervene on behalf of FMCS."
Both CNS and the MTC said they support the federal mediator stepping in.
"CNS fully supports the engagement of a federal mediator to assist both parties in achieving a fair and equitable agreement," said CNS spokesperson George Rangel. "In the meantime, Pantex continues safe and stable operations."
Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault echoed a similar sentiment. "I'm pleased that the FMCS has stepped in to assist us in these negotiations," said Ault. "These workers deserve a fair and equitable contract that includes benefits commensurate with the service they provide our nation."
A joint meeting with CNS, the MTC and the FMCS mediator is scheduled for September 22.