Union Members Consider New Contract Offer From Northrop Grumman

The Metal Trades Council at Ingalls is considering what is being called a final offer from Northrop Grumman.

The four year contract includes three pay raises. Workers would get a 55 cent per hour increase, with a $3,000 lump sum bonus the first year. Health insurance premiums would be at 14 percent, with a $86 cap.

The second phase of the contract would see the hourly wage go up 65 cents, with a healthcare premium at 18 percent with a $123 cap.

The final phase gives workers a 75 cent an hour wage increase, with healthcare premiums set at 21 percent, with a $151 cap.

Negotiators say this was the toughest deal they've ever had to make.

"I'll tell you it was several factors, number one the economy. Everybody knows the economy is not doing well as it has in the past. The rumors of war that are all around, and then of course this being a contractor, and the new leadership of the company," said Warren Fairley with the International Brotherhood of Boiler Makers.

"The company didn't want to give, the unions didn't want to give. So we had to come to a mutual, come to the middle of the road persay," said Grady Bryant with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

But union leaders say all of their hard work has paid off because now they think they have an agreement that everyone will like.

"It's a lot better proposal than we had on the table before and it's made some improvements in the drugs and payments," said Mike Crawley with the Metal Trades Council.

Grady Bryant represents the International Union for Painters and Allied Trades and says he hopes his members will accept the new proposal.

"I got to go sell it to them. But the offer is good, I used to work out there in the shipyard, so I can tell you the offer is good. And we just have to go do what we have to do to get it ratified," Bryant said.

All union business managers agree it took hard work and determination to reach a final decision.

"The will of everyone here to get, to reach an agreement. You know nobody here really benefits from a strike and I can honestly say, no one on either side of the table was interested in having one," Fariley said.

Members of the Metal Trades Council will vote on the new proposal this Friday at the Pascagoula National Guard Armory The extended contract the workers are on now expires Sunday morning.

by Jennifer Holliman