Source: Atomic City Underground Blog | Frank Munger | December 15, 2015
With freshly negotiated labor contracts in place at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, it’s a new era, and there’s a changing of the guard at the Atomic Trades and Labor Council.
Steve Jones, president of the ATLC for the past five years, is retiring — effective in January. Mike Thompson, a Teamster by trade and a long-time player in Oak Ridge union affairs, will succeed Jones in the top slot at the umbrella labor organization that represents more than a dozen unions at the government plants.
The recent negotiations with UT-Battelle at ORNL and Consolidated Nuclear Security at Y-12 were perhaps the crowning point of Jones’ career, and he expressed his gratitude last week at a meeting of union delegates who elected the new leadership team for the ATLC.
“I told my council I appreciated the opportunity to have this job. Not everybody gets to be president of the ATLC,” Jones said in an interview. “I learned a lot. I learned a lot about relationships. I told our (negotiating) committee the other day, a good relationship gets you through tough times. I don’t care whether that’s personal life or your work life.”
Jones said he thinks the Oak Ridge hourly workers are in good shape for the future, and he feels good about that.
“Our members make good wages and benefits, and just knowing they’ve got good insurance and good benefits and make more than a living wage,” he said. “These are the best jobs around by far.”
Thompson agreed with that assessment, and he said he’s looking forward.
“We have had some good successes,” he said, noting the changing face of Oak Ridge contractors and the need to stay the course.
In preparing to lead in the future, Thompson said he’d learned a lot working alongside Jones, and he also gained experience working with ATLC leaders of the past — Bob Keil, Jim Hamby, Bubba Scarbrough, Garry Whitley.
Relationships with the government contractors are important, but it takes time to establish those relationships, he said.
“You have to figure out who you can (trust) and who you can’t,” he said.
The new ATLC leadership team was elected by acclamation at last week’s meeting.
I’ll write more on this labor transition in the near term.