Striking Exelon employees claim public safety issues at power plant

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By Josh Resnek

The Exelon plant across from the Encore Boston Harbor and Hotel is the largest power plant in Massachusetts.

Union employees of the sprawling energy complex went on strike Saturday claiming safety issues and concerns about working conditions.

Throughout the weekend, the Utility workers Union of America Local 369 manned a picket line in front of the entrance to the facility.

Exelon officials declined to answer inquiries about the strike.

The picket line attracted media coverage over the weekend when Congressman Joe Kennedy, running against Senator Ed Markey for the Democratic senate nomination, lent his support to the strikers.

It was the second time in two weeks Kennedy has appeared in Everett.

Councilor Mike McLaughlin, running against State representative Joe McGonagle, also joined the picketing with Kennedy and Councilor Stephanie Martin.

The energy generating facility is located on a small spit of land along the shore of the Mystic River on the Everett side of the river which is considered Charlestown.

For all intents and purposes, the union action is an Everett action.

Exelon is the city’s largest taxpayer and has been for the past 20 years – paying about $15 million a year to the city treasury.

The city is right now suing Exelon to receive a larger tax payment for its property, which is likely worth billions of dollars at this point, according to city officials.

Former US Attorney and governor and Mintz Levin lawyer William Weld has been representing the city in its suit against Exelon.

City records reveal Weld has been paid more than $1 million without the case yet being resolved.

It is the city’s belief that Exelon’s property assessment is too low.

Since the opening of the Boston Harbor Hotel and Casino, a deal which Weld led and later cemented for Wynn Resorts, Encore has become the largest taxpayer in the city contributing about $30 million a year in payments in lieu of taxes.

“Running this vital plant is dangerous work which requires technical know-how. You need someone sitting at the control panel who knows what they’re doing,” Local 369 President Craig Pinkham said in a statement. “We’re dealing with high-pressure gas, high-pressure steam, ammonia-fueled gas — many highly poisonous materials that require a high degree of expertise and experience.”

During the strike, the plant is being run by management who lack the proper experience, the union said.

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