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Entergy, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station union to resume contract talks

Contract talks have repeatedly deadlocked over health care, safety, and staffing issues at the Pilgrim plant.

David Ryan/GLOBE STAFF/FIle 2011

Contract talks have repeatedly deadlocked over health care, safety, and staffing issues at the Pilgrim plant.

Negotiations will resume Friday between union employees at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and the power plant’s owner, Entergy Corp., after both sides agreed to extend workers’ current contract until May 25, the company said.

The Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 and Entergy have been in talks for more than a month but have repeatedly deadlocked over health care, safety, and staffing issues. The latest impasse came Wednesday, when, following an intense bargaining session, some union workers said they were kept off the job at Pilgrim.

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Entergy said it decided to give workers a paid day off in large part because they felt that union members might strike. Earlier this month, workers voted to allow their leadership to call a strike if necessary.

“You can’t have workers here that could strike at any time day or night,” Entergy spokeswoman Carol Wightman said. “So, the company felt it was prudent to give them a paid day off.”

On Thursday, all employees were back to work at the power plant in Plymouth, according to Entergy. “Hopefully, between now and May 25 we can come to a fair and equitable agreement,” said Wightman.

Union president Dan Hurley said the labor group’s national leaders negotiated the contract extension with Entergy so that talks could resume Friday. He said the union was happy to be back at the bargaining table, and to have its members back on the job.

“It’s a safer place today,” Hurley said.

US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, praised the resumption of bargaining.

“I am encouraged that Local 369 and Entergy are back at the bargaining table today and that highly skilled and experienced Local 369 utility workers are back on the job,” Lynch said in a statement. “It is in the best interest of the workers, as well as the public’s safety, for both sides to reach a fair agreement as soon as possible.”

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.
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