By Frank Munger, News-Sentinel Oak Ridge bureau
Jul 23, 1999
-- A union official and a labor relations manager both required
medical attention following a physical altercation Thursday morning at BNFL's work
site on the federal reservation.
An argument reportedly led to fisticuffs
involving George Jones, BNFL's labor relations manager, and Willis
Hall, business agent for the International Laborers
Union, Local 818. Dale Atkin, a union steward, also was present
during the dispute. Jones and Hall were later treated for injuries
characterized as minor.
There were conflicting reports about who
instigated the altercation, but one of the issues apparently involved
Atkin's availability to conduct union business Thursday morning.
Oak Ridge police responded to the scene and
took statements. Lt. John Davidson said the matter was referred
to the Roane County attorney general's office. No charges were
Leanne Smith, project director for BNFL,
said Hall and Atkin were "de-badged" and barred from
the site, pending the outcome of an investigation. Smith said Jones was not suspended, and a
union official questioned the fairness of the actions.
Steve Farner, an international union representative
from Nashville, arrived in Oak Ridge to check out reports of the incident. He said he considered it unusual
that BNFL management did not suspend everyone involved because
it appeared there were two sides to the story. "I wasn't there and Leanne (Smith) wasn't
there, so I think it would be presumptive for either one of us
to say what did or did not happen," Farner said.
The union official said there are procedures
within the collective bargaining agreement to deal with such disputes.
BNFL is the lead contractor on a major cleanup
project at the Department of Energy's K-25 Site, involving three
huge buildings once used to process uranium for nuclear fuel.
More than 500 people are employed by BNFL and numerous subcontractors
on the project.
Frank Munger can be reached at 423-482-9213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.