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Northrop Grumman Shipyard Workers Approve
Two-Year Contract Extension

December 6, 2009

IBEW members at Northrop Grumman’s Avondale and Ingalls shipyards in Louisiana and Mississippi have overwhelmingly approved a two-year extension of their current labor agreement.

Jim Couch, business manager of Pascagoula, Miss., Local 733, representing 1,800 members at the shipyards, says that by settling the contract—without repeating previous disputes that resulted in strikes—the defense contractor will maintain stable costs and an advantage in bidding on new work.

Approved by 90 percent of members who voted, the extended contract freezes health care co-pays and deductibles and provides for $.55 per hour wage increases each year.  Cost-of-living payments will be suspended in 2010 in lieu of a $1,000 signing bonus and reinstated in 2011.  Says Couch:

This contract is a win in these economic times. Very few members were opposed to this contract.  One guy stood outside with a sign saying, “Vote No” and people laughed when they passed him.  Eliminating increases in employee contributions to health care insurance and a cash bonus before the holidays were popular features. 

Currently, IBEW members and thousands of others in the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council are working on Navy destroyers and amphibious ships. With demand for skilled labor increasing, Local 733 is sending 30 members a day to the company for work, including travelers from all over the U.S.  Over 500 members have been put to work this year.