Union workers at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth voted 137 to 89 against accepting a new contract Wednesday, shattering a tentative deal reached by union leaders with the plant’s owners earlier this week.
It was unclear when or if negotiations would resume.
Members of the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 369, have been locked out of their jobs for about two weeks, since contract talks broke down, but negotiators for the union and Entergy Corp., which owns the plant, had reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract early Tuesday.
Louisiana-based Entergy said in a statement Wednesday that the plant continues to operate safely and that the contract it agreed to with union negotiators was fair.
“We continue to believe the proposed contract rejected today by the Local 369 Union membership represents an exceptional wage and benefits package and reflects the realities of today’s economy in an increasingly competitive electric power business,” the company said.
In its own statement, the union asked the company to return to negotiations and “put safety before profits.”
“The hardworking men and women who keep Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant operating profitably and safely have spoken loud and clear: They will not accept cuts to their pay or health care from a company making record profits and paying executives in the tens of millions,” it said.
Citing the union members’ ability to “walk off the job at any time,” Entergy earlier this month implemented what it called a contingency plan, bringing in qualified managers and workers from the company’s other plants to oversee operations at Pilgrim.
Details about the tentative pact have not been released, but a union official had said Tuesday that it included some wage increases, as well as a compromise on health benefits.
The 40-year-old Pilgrim plant recently won a 20-year license renewal from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The renewal process was complicated by objections from neighbors and state officials, many of whom expressed safety concerns following the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan last year. The Plymouth plant has a similar design.