MINDING THE STORE

THEY DON'T MAKE BOMBS ANYMORE AT ROCKY FLATS. BUT THE PLANT IS AS DANGEROUS AS EVER.

Jefferies alleges that EG&G is also using subcontractors to escape legal and financial liability, which can be considerable when working with radioactive wastes. "If something bad happens, they can say, `Don't blame us, blame the subcontractor,'" he says.

In a written response sent to Westword, EG&G denies the charge. "Decisions to subcontract are based on a variety of reasons such as scheduling, inhouse resources and special expertise required" for certain work, says the statement.

Labor relations are no better in Idaho Falls, where EG&G is the prime operating contractor at DOE's Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. There the company has shown "an unwillingness to settle even the simplest issues, even in the presence of clear contract language," says Julie Holzer, a representative with OCAW. She notes the company has historically had "a deaf-ear attitude" toward workers. The Idaho facility's nuclear reactor has been run by union members for more than thirty years, says Holzer, but EG&G is attempting to force out the unionized reactor operators and replace them with inexperienced hourly workers. Negotiations on the issue have reached an impasse.

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Mann says EG&G "enjoys working with" the union at Rocky Flats, and "works intimately" with labor groups across the country. EG&G isn't "doing a good enough job" getting out and talking to workers in the field at Rocky Flats, he acknowledges. "I want to hear what the people have to say," he says. "There's no doubt in my mind that the people on the floor know where the problems are, and more important, they know what the solutions are." And prodded by DOE, the company has made recent overtures to improve its relationship with the steelworkers.

But Wise remains unconvinced. EG&G "has no credibility," he says, in either labor relations or safety issues. The company "does not have the ability to manage that facility," he says. "The buildings are a flat-ass mess. We're sitting on a powder keg at Rocky Flats.

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