ustxtxb_obs_1983_03_25_50_00002-00000_000.pdf

Page 19

by

Whistleblower to Go “All the Way” With Appeals Fort Worth Charles “Chuck” Atchison’s latest struggle to clear his work record and win the back pay, benefits and court costs ordered by the National Labor Relations Board in three separate rulings against three nuclear power plant contractors may cost the former nuclear quality control inspector from Azle yet another job. The three contractors all fired Atchison in a five-month period last year in violation of the Equal Protection Section* of the so-called “whistleblower law.” Atchison, who finally found steady work eight months after being fired illegally by Brown & Root, nuclear constructor for Texas Utilities’ Comanche Peak plant being built near Glen Rose, and who subsequently found himself hired and fired abruptly by two nuclear contractors in Louisiana, talked about his *Which prohibits the firing of workers for reporting violations or testifying in federal proceedings covered by the Atomic Energy Act. Frequent Observer contributor Betty Brink is a free lance writer living in Kountze. problems recently as the appeal hearing for one of the latter firms, ThompkinsBeckwith, Inc., subcontractor at Waterford III being built for Louisiana Power and Light near New Orleans, drew to a close. “I’m making about half what I’d make in the nuclear industry,” Atchison said, “but I’m not complaining. I just hope I can keep this job [with a small defense contractor in Fort Worth]. At first the company was glad to get someone who did an honest job, but I’ve lost so much time giving depositions, attending hearings and the like, that my boss is getting a little restless.” Atchison, accused of “overinspecting and witchhunting” by a Brown & Root supervisor, was fired illegally in April, the NLRB ruled, after he continued to report defective welds \(up to 75 % in vendor supplied pipe whip restraints in critical safety areas of the Comanche Peak plant.* Atchison never got a chance to report on any welds for Thompkins-Beckwith, *The defective welds were confirmed by later NRC investigators who also said with straight faces that Atchison’s testimony had “nothing to do with the NRC investigation.” the firm that hired him one week and fired him the next, in a “probable conspiracy,” the NLRB ruled, with B&R in an effort to prevent his testimony at the Comanche Peak licensing hearings in Fort Worth in July. Thompkins-Beckwith fired him in retaliation when he testified anyway. \(TO, “I was desperately looking for a job,” Atchison said, “when I saw this ad for pipe whip restraint inspectors at Waterbury, the guy who ran the ad, and he set up an interview on a Friday and I was told to report on a Monday. That was the day I was supposed to testify. I left anyway and spent two days at the site when I was called back to Fort Worth for the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearings [under subpoena. **] When I **Atchison was served with his subpoena only after he arrived in Fort Worth, purposefully, in order to give him job protection; yet, later, back at Waterford HI, a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy arrived with a subpoena for Atchison. This subpoena could never be accounted for since all of the ASLB subpoena’s had been returned. \(The ASLB had the only legal as does its present location. It seems to have disappeared. TETx0BSERvER The Progressive Biweekly Vol. 75, No. 6 74SE’If , March 25, 1983 Publisher and Editor at Large: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Joe Holley Associate Editor: Geoffrey Rips Washington Correspondents: Amy Cunningham, Al Watkins Southern Correspondent: Bob Sherrill Staff Reporter: Kay Gunderson EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Bandera; Chandler Davidson. Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold. Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn. Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana, Tx.; Susan Reid, Austin; CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Nina Butts, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, John Henry Faulk, Bill Helmer, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Laurence Jolidon, Mary Lenz, Matt Lyon, Greg Moses, Janie Paleschic, Laura Richardson. M. P. Rosenberg, Bob Sindermann, Jr.. Paul Sweeney, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Grant Fehr, Bob Clare, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol, Ronald Cortes. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Berke Breathed, Jeff Danziger, Ben Sargent, Mary Margaret Wade, Gail Woods. Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForUm-Advocate. The Progressive Biweekly We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth io serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Business Manager: Frances Barton Advertising, Special Projects: Cliff Olofson Design and Layout: Sarah Clausen The Texas Observer 75C prepaid. One year, S20; two years. $38; three years. S56. One year rate for full-time students. $13. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from Microfilming Corporation of America, Box 10. Sanford. N.C. 27330. Copyright 1983 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. 2 MARCH 25, 1983