Knoxville News-Sentinel

BNFL Labor Relations Manager, Union Official Treated After Altercation

By Frank Munger, News-Sentinel Oak Ridge bureau

Jul 23, 1999

OAK RIDGE -- 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 filed.

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

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