by Jane Ann Morrisonr
Las Vegas Review-Journal -- Thursday, June 20, 2002

The Nevada AFL-CIO, which had been silent for years on the Yucca Mountain Project, decided Wednesday to voice its opposition.

But it also noted that if the proposed repository for the nation's nuclear waste is ultimately approved, "the facilities must be built with skilled union labor."

Other unions, such as Teamsters Local 631 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 367, have supported the Yucca Mountain Project. Both say the repository will create jobs.

At the AFL-CIO's convention in Las Vegas, union President Walt Elliot said one reason for the anti-Yucca position is that its previous silence on the matter could taint some of its endorsed candidates.

Political foes could criticize the union's candidates for accepting money from the labor group if no specific opposition had been voiced, Elliot said.

The resolution, which passed without opposition, said the AFL-CIO "and all its affiliated local unions oppose the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain."

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Danny Thompson noted that it was only recently that the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce took a position against the repository as well.

Although a resolution is merely an expression of opinion, two of the state's leading politicians, Gov. Kenny Guinn and Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, both welcomed the move.

Guinn described it as "a step forward" and acknowledged that because the first priority of unions is jobs, opposing the project is difficult.

"I think it has a big impact," said Perkins, D-Henderson, who was also endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

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