Source: ABC7 Amarillo News | Steven Graves | April 11, 2015

For the first time in 40 years, employees of Pantex are threatening to strike if changes aren’t made to their contract regarding benefits.

In a rally packed with people on Saturday at Caprock High School, it was a time to plan out exactly what employees will do if they decide to strike.

The issue lies with steep cuts in their medical benefits and the ongoing negotiations to reach a compromise.

The dozens of workers from 10 unions under the company are preparing for what might be a strike if an unfavorable decision is made.

“We’re getting ready and prepared in the event that we have a strike; that they would set up food banks or have a plan about things like insurance, said Metal Trades Council President, Clarence Rashada.

Workers of the Amarillo company that takes care of the country’s nuclear stockpile are frustrated. They’re rallying after CNS, the company over thier contracts is demanding to make cuts to worker’s benefits such as sick leave, 401-K plans, pension, and medical expenses.

“The non-union people have already had cuts, so we’re thinking the same will happen to us,” said Rashada.

The Metal Trades Council, or MTC, represents the 1200 workers under the 10 Pantex unions. Rashada and Vice President Charles Thomas said keeping steady benefits are important, especially for Pantex employees.

“The radiation at the plant causes a lot of illness throughout our membership. How is a person, anyone even yourself included expected to take time off and see a doctor if they don’t want to provide any?” said Thomas.

Negotiations are currently in the works between the MTC and Pantex. When a decision is reached, votes will be cast within the unions to decide if a strike is needed.

“We’re not in a position where we’re negotiating for a strike. We’re negotiating for an amicable contract that the membership will accept,” Thomas said.

Pantex released a statement on Monday:

“Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) Pantex is working with the Metal Trades Council (MTC) negotiating team to develop a fair and reasonable contract for represented employees. Negotiations have been progressing since January 21, 2015. CNS Pantex is hopeful that the negotiations will come to a positive conclusion with a ratification vote for the proposed contract. CNS Pantex believes it is important for the MTC leadership to present information about the proposed contract to its members. Therefore, CNS Pantex will not provide proposal details to the media until after MTC members have been informed and voted.”