Monticello plant guards reach deal to settle lockout

Monticello nuclear plant
Xcel Energy's Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant photographed in June 2012.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News file 2012

Updated: 12:56 p.m. | Posted: 11:51 a.m.

Security workers at Xcel Energy’s nuclear power plant in Monticello have reached a tentative agreement to settle a labor dispute with their employer.

Members of United Security Professionals Local 2 have been picketing in front of the plant this week, along with other union supporters. The 23 union employees work for G4S, a London-based company under contract to provide security for the plant.

G4S locked the workers out after their contract expired and they rejected a proposed new contract. The union said the company wants to change the employees’ health plan, which it said would result in higher costs and less coverage for workers.

G4S said Local 2 workers will resume their duties on Monday. It hopes to have a final agreement in the next two weeks.

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Josh Haider, president of Local 2, said the security workers take pride in their jobs and are happy to be returning to work.

Haider said the union believes its picketing was “completely legal” under National Labor Relations Board rules.

In a statement, Xcel Energy said it’s pleased the two sides have reached a tentative agreement “that we hope leads to a long-term solution.”

Xcel said throughout the dispute, it’s maintained “the highest level of safety and security” at the plant, which continued to produce power at normal levels.

G4S provided additional security workers during the lockout, who will remain on the job until the Local 2 workers return Sept. 9. Union officials have questioned whether the replacement workers were adequately trained.

G4S responded to those questions in a statement: “The current replacement officers at the Xcel Energy Monticello nuclear power plant are experienced nuclear security professionals that have been trained by Xcel Energy, G4S and also meet the stringent requirements and qualifications set forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”