IBEW Ratifies Northrop Grumman Contract

Union workers at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard will be back on the job Monday, though the possibility of a labor strike still exists. Saturday, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and independent hydraulic workers said yes to Northrop Grumman's 43 month contract proposal.

The vote was an overwhelming 68 percent yes to 32 percent no. Seventy two percent of the IBEW membership turned out to vote on the 43 month labor contract. Members cheered when the votes were counted and congratulated IBEW Business Manager Chico McGill for his negotiation efforts.

McGill says the vote reflects members' willingness to listen to facts of the contract; "They've had time to sit down and digest a lot of the letters we've been sending to them on a weekly or week and a half basis, and the explanations that my stewards have been giving on the work site. The fact that we try to communicate as much as possible with our membership is probably on the leading edge on why these people ratified the contract."

Northrop Grumman spokesman Den Knecht issued a statement saying, "Northrop Grumman is gratified that IBEW became the third independent group to ratify the new agreement that the company and unions negotiated." IBEW members, hydraulic workers, officer workers and guards have all ratified the contract which included pay raises of 50 cent an hour and bonuses. They will begin earning that higher wage Monday.

Members of the Metal Trades Council will not. That union rejected Northrop Grumman's contract offer Friday night. Because all unions have not ratified the deal, a federal mediator ordered all parties back to the bargaining table Monday afternoon. Knecht said the company welcomes continued talks.

The federal mediator also called for a 14 day "cooling off" time before any strike vote is taken. If a deal can't be worked out and a strike is sanctioned, Chico McGill says his union would honor picket lines. Metal trades workers will be on the job Monday under the "old" contract... and have been ordered to take a 14 day cooling off time before the possibility of a strike.