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Navy Grants Avondale Shipyard Temporary Reprieve

September 28, 2010

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Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced that the Navy would complete the construction of two warships currently being built at the Avondale Shipyard, keeping the Northrop Grumman Corp. – owned facility open for at least one year beyond its scheduled 2013 shutdown date.

Pascagoula, Miss., Local 733 represents more than 300 workers at Avondale in New Orleans and hundreds more at the Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula. The company announced this summer that it would close the Louisiana shipyard for good, with layoffs set to begin next month.

IBEW Government Employees Department Director Chico McGill says he is grateful to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Rep. Charles Melancon (D-La.), for their efforts to convince the Navy to alter its construction timetable.

Says McGill:

After Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, the last thing New Orleans or the Gulf Coast of Mississippi needs is the loss of contracts at the yards that provide a lifeline to skilled workers who are dedicated to producing high-quality ships for the defense of their nation.

The AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department launched a public campaign this summer to gain support for the shipyard, which plays a vital economic role in the Gulf Coast.

Metal Trades President Ron Ault says that the announcement is a big boost for efforts to keep the shipyard open, but Northrop Grumman appears intent on shedding its shipbuilding division, he says.

[A] permanent solution to maintaining shipbuilding in the Gulf Coast will hinge on finding a qualified buyer for Northrop Grumman’s three shipyards – Avondale, Ingalls … and Newport News in Virginia.