April 3, 2007
Striking Ingalls workers to vote on new agreement
The Metal Trades Department (AFL-CIO) reports that negotiators for 15 unions, representing 7,000 shipyard workers at Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems (NGSS) in Pascagoula, Mississippi have reached a tentative agreement with the company on an economic package that would raise wages 15.2 percent over the next three years -- with an initial hourly increase of $1.68 per hour, followed by two 55-cent per-hour increases on the anniversary of the agreement.
Additionally, the package includes attendance and shift premium bonuses valued at .61 cents per-hour.
"We believe this agreement addresses the entire range of concerns from the members and their families and we're recommending a yes vote," declared Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault.
Workers had voted overwhelmingly to reject two earlier proposals from the company, largely out of frustration over economic terms. The strike began on March 8, four days after their previous agreement expired. When the parties returned to the bargaining table this week the package was reformulated in the area of health care premiums, retirement and vacation pay as well as wages.
In response to the workers' concerns over percentage increases in health care premiums, the new package establishes fixed monthly premiums of $151 in the first year, $177 in year two and $194 in year three. Retiree health care premiums will go from the current $175 to $255 over the life of the agreement.
The pact contains a cost-of-living clause linked to the South East regional CPI to protect negotiated wages against the volatile economy of the Gulf Coast region.
The agreement also calls for a 5 percent increase in the retirement multiplier, from 65 to 70 percent.
Out of concern for recruiting and retention, the company has also agreed to enhance vacation pay for workers with four or fewer years of service. An estimated 30 percent of the current workforce falls into that category.
The union leaders will recommend approval of the package to the workers when they meet on Wednesday to vote on it.