March 4, 2003 at 3:45 AM CST - Updated June 21 at 10:42 AM
PACE Union Makes Offer to USEC By: Kate Scott
(Paducah, KY)--PACE union workers are waiting to find out if USEC will accept their latest offer.
The union workers are now a month into their strike at the United States Enrichment Corporation in Paducah.They are picketing for better wages, medical insurance, contract terms, and pension benefits. Monday, union negotiators made the company an offer that would resolve those issues, if USEC officials accept the proposal. There was no mediator involved in the meeting.
Monday evening, a USEC spokesperson told Heartland news that the meeting with negotiators was a positive step in the right direction, but she couldn't indicate whether or not the company would accept the offer.
PACE (Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical, and Energy) union members were trying to be optimistic as they waited for that answer on Monday evening.Many of them told Heartland News that they would like to get back to work, because being on the picket line is certainly no picnic.While most folks in the Heartland have spent the last month indoors trying to avoid the snow and ice, the 635 picketers have been taking turns huddling around barrels to stay warm.“They've made sacrifices anyway, but the ultimate sacrifice has been to weather the inclement weather that we've had,” says PACE President Leon Owens.
And not only have they been “weathering the weather,” the union members have been doing it on sixty dollars a week in strike pay! That’s just enough for many members to pay for the gas it takes to drive to the picket site.“Some of us are lucky enough to have a spouse working,” explains union member Bill Cossler.“Many people don't.Some people were able to save. There are many different community organization that are helping serve our members right now, and there are many churches and people that we can turn to if we need to.”
Even though it hasn't been easy out there, and it certainly hasn't been warm, union members like Cossler say they're not going to get all fired up about going back to work, until the two sides come to an agreement that workers can live with.“We’ll be out here as long as it takes,” says Cossler.“We don’t like being here, but when you step across the line, you have to make a stand.”
Union and USEC negotiators were scheduled to meet again at 9 o’clock Tuesday morning.That’s when USEC planned to respond to the union's offer.
USEC is the company that operates the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.