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G4S Security Lockout Ends @ Xcel Monticello Nuclear Plant After a Show of Solidarity By Labor Unions
Nuclear Security Officers have been picketing this week outside Xcel Energy’s nuclear power plant in Monticello in an ongoing labor dispute that started on August 31, 2019.
The 23 union employees work for G4S, a London-based company under contract with Xcel to provide security for the plant.
G4S locked the workers out after their contract expired and they rejected a proposed new contract. The union said the company wants to change the employees’ health plan, which it said would result in higher costs and less coverage for workers.
Josh Haider, president of United Security Professionals Local 2, the union that represents shift leaders or supervisors, said union we’re getting a ton of union support from all over the state, which is great,” Haider said.
This included the National Union of Nuclear Security Officers NUNSO, Teamsters Local 120, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, United Security Professionals Local 1, LIUNA, SEIU and IBEW Local 160 who refused to cross the picket line.
After this show of support by these labor unions, the community and local representatives the company G4S finally raised the white flag in defeat and withdrew its lockout and caved in to the United Security Professionals Local 2 demands not to take away their healthcare.
At issue was a change in their health insurance plan.
Joshua Haider, President of the United Security Professionals Local 2 says when G4S took over from Securitas in 2018, G4S told them both verbally and in writing they wouldn’t change their health plan, but Haider says that was the first thing they mentioned when they sat down at the bargaining table in March.
A last ditch effort was made by the union before the lockout with an “either or” proposal. Option A was allowing the workers to take the new Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, but with raises to cancel out the insurance contribution loss. Option B was workers keeping the current insurance coverage but with less of a raise. Haider says G4S called their proposal unreasonable.
Haider says the new deal with G4S allows them to keep their health insurance plan and also offered them a 2.5% cost of living raise. G4S will also be increasing their contributions to employee 401K plans and will be giving each worker a thousand dollars to cover expenses for the days they were out on the picket line.
Union sources say G4S contacted them around midnight to say they would agree to their requests, adding that they are very appreciative of G4S for coming to an agreement, quickly ending the lockout.
Randy Sand has been working at the power plant since 1979. He says this was a stressful time for them.
It becomes stressful for us and our families but what do you do. You press on and rely on the strength of our members and the community and hope things will get resolved.
Haider said the union never had an issue with Xcel Energy, who operates the plant.
G4S was looking to switch the union over to Blue Cross Blue Shield and workers say they were very worried about the dispute between Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Minnesota Hospital Association. Workers also say that the package was inferior to what they have now, and would have cost significantly more because G4S said they were also going to cut their contributions to their health insurance costs. That equaled out to about $10 thousand per year per worker.
The press conference above was attended by the following local politicians who saw a need to get involved in this lockout.
Senator Bruce D. Anderson (29, R) Bruce Douglas Anderson is an American politician and member of the Minnesota Senate. A member of the Republican Party of Minnesota, he represents District 29, which includes portions of Hennepin and Wright counties in central Minnesota.
Appearing at the press conference was Marion O’Neill a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. A member of the Republican Party of Minnesota, she represents District 29B in central Minnesota.
Shane Mekeland is an American politician and member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. A member of the Republican Party of Minnesota, he represents District 15B in central Minnesota.
Xcel Energy owns and operates two nuclear power plants: Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant near Monticello, MN, and Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant near Red Wing, MN. These plants produce nearly 30 percent of the electricity we provide to customers in the Upper Midwest.