DOE Director of Energy Jobs Commits to Open Communication

Jennifer Kropke, director of energy jobs, told the USW Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) that they have an ally in her at the Department of Energy (DOE).

Kropke spoke with the AEWC online at the group’s virtual spring meeting on March 22. She said she is open to hearing ideas about protecting and expanding union jobs.

“She committed to doing everything she can to improve the lines of communication that were absent in the previous administration,” said USW International Vice President Roxanne Brown. “I am confident that she will be a definite help in getting our atomic members’ issues with the contractors and DOE site personnel more quickly before the appropriate agency officials.”

Kropke said the administration created her office to generate jobs in the energy sector, such as in the nuclear industry, particularly for those transitioning from coal and power plant jobs.

She said she wants to review how to use DOE funding opportunities to create more union jobs. To that end, she said she wants to ask every contractor about the type and number of jobs they are creating, if they are following inclusivity guidelines for hiring a diverse workforce and if they are creating more union jobs.

“There are job opportunities in environmental management, energy legacy, renewable energy and advanced manufacturing,” she said.

AEWC members told Kropke about two possibilities for job growth in the nuclear sector. AEWC President Jim Key said building a recovered nickel contamination facility would create jobs, especially since there is new technology for refinement of the metal. With a multi-billion-dollar naval reactors facility scheduled to be built at Idaho National Laboratory, the need for more power will result in additional USW jobs at that site, said AEWC Secretary Treasurer Ryan Christensen.

Other issues raised

AEWC members also discussed with Kropke labor contract transitions between DOE contractors; the labor-management conferences between the USW, contractor and DOE; the need for successorship and union recognition language in the DOE’s Request for Proposals, safety and more.

The AEWC meeting also focused on pension concerns, reports on contract negotiations, the impact of COVID-19 at the nuclear sites and training for atomic workers.

Ashlee Fitch, director of the USW Tony Mazzocchi Center, announced at the meeting that there will be a training fundamentals class the week of May 3 for lead trainers and members who conduct train-the-trainer classes.

In addition, AEWC members learned that the Worker Protection Program is resuming CT scans for atomic retirees. If a retiree has a question about the program, they can contact Fitch at or David Cassady, USWTMC coordinator, at

Pictured: Jennifer Kropke,

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222