AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Employees hired to provide security at SRS are on strike.

Members of local union group 125 say they will continue to strike until a deal is made.

Nearly 100 employees of the Savannah river site local group 125 stood in solidarity to protest what they are calling unfair contract negotiations.

Centerra-SRS and its union employees have been in negotiation since March with a final vote that took place at the beginning of this month.

“It ended in a contract where we had about a 3rd of the contract that we couldn’t agree upon,” says Mathias Miller, President of UPPSR Local 125. “When we presented it to the membership it was voted down at 92 percent. And then a vote in our bylaws called for a vote afterwards to either go on strike or try to go back to the table. Since we had spent so long at the table, the vote came out at 87 percent to go on strike. “

Miller says to date they haven’t heard anything from Centerra about a meeting to discuss their contracts but he says what they’re asking for is worth consideration.

“We have had contract language in place for over 30 years. That was changed during this contract and its not been changed in the past. We also saw a sharp increase in our insurance and we’d like to see that either dialed back or gradually brought up over time instead of all at once.”

Shawn Williams has been an employee with SRS for 16 years and says he’s never had to go on strike regarding his contract but he will stand in protest until a deal is reached.

“This is affecting me a lot,” says Williams. “I have an eleven month old daughter that I don’t have medical coverage for right now. And I don’t have life insurance right now. I’m not getting a paycheck right now. I don’t want to be here right now, I’d rather be at work, but the language that the company offered us in the contract eliminates the unions ability to fight for its employees.”

While the union is on strike Centerra has implemented an approved strike contingency plan to ensure security at the facility.

Williams says the strike isn’t about more money buts about the unfair treatment of its employees when it comes to negotiations surrounding their contract and their livelihood.

“We’re not being greedy, we’re not out here trying to become wealthy men. Rich men don’t wake up at 4 a.m. and put on combat boots, work a 13 hour rotating shift, and use a port-a-potty when they have to go to the bathroom. I just want to keep good medical coverage for my kids, keep a roof over their head. We just want a fair contract and what we were offered was the furthest thing from fair.”

Employees say they plan to protest until 8 p.m. and then start again Wednesday morning with rotating shifts until a meeting is scheduled to discuss their contract.

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – A strike is underway at the Savannah River Site.

The union for employee’s with Centerra, the security contractor at SRS, launched the strike at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning over a contract dispute.

Striking workers are gathering near the badge office on Road One at the plant.

According to an SRS spokesman, security is being maintained by Centerra employees who are not striking.

No word on how long the strike will last.

Centerra released a statement saying…

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between Centerra-SRS and United Professional Pro-Force of Savannah River (UPPSR), Local 125, bargaining unit personnel expired at midnight Sunday, April 30, 2017. The negotiations between Company and Union representatives for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) began on March 27, 2017. The Company bargained in good faith in an attempt to reach a new CBA that would be acceptable to all parties. There was a federal mediator on scene to assist with the process and the negotiations were document by a court reporter. After four months, the Company provided its last, best and final offer on July 19, 2017. The Union took their initial vote on July 31 and August 1, 2017, and the voting members did not ratify the new CBA. On August 11, the Company was officially notified by the UPPSR that it had called for a strike by its members to begin at 4:00 a.m., on Tuesday, August 15.

Centerra-SRS has implemented an approved strike contingency plan to ensure continuity of security mission requirements. As a result, supplemental trained and qualified personnel will be in place to ensure the safety and security of Site operations and employees. Site security functions will be maintained by Centerra employees who are not striking members of the UPPSR bargaining unit and Protective Force personnel from other DOE locations. All of these individuals completed a Site-specific Training Program to ensure they are fully qualified and meet DOE Order requirements. We do not discuss our specific security posture and will not go into detail other than what has been provided.

Our employees are our most valuable resource and we value the work performed by the bargaining unity employees. We are hopeful that the strike will be short and that there will be a mutually agreeable resolution that brings the striking employees back to work as soon as possible.

We remain focused on our important National security mission at SRS. We are prepared to continue our tradition of providing the DOE with best-in-class security services, and will do so safely in accordance with our contractual obligations.

Centerra-SRS has been the security contractor at SRS since 1983. We are operating under a 10-year contract that began in January 2010, with a five-year base period (January 2010-September 2014) and two options (October 2014-September 2017 and October 2017-September 2019).