Northrop Grumman shipbuilders speak out about schedule change - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Northrop Grumman shipbuilders speak out about schedule change

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

By Patrice Clark – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – It is official: Northrop Grumman shipbuilders will soon have to work five days a week instead of four. The announcement came from the shipbuilder's vice president Irwin F. Edenzon who said the change will ensure safety and quality built ships.

The change will affect about 17,000 employees along the Gulf Cost region. At the Pascagoula shipyard, word spread fast Thursday that shipbuilders will no longer have their Fridays off. The company has returned to a five day-eight hour work week.

"I don't like it all and it should stay the same," shipbuilder William Benkowich said.

Benkowich said he was attracted to the job because he only had to work four days, the money was great, and he could hang out with his family. Now, he feels cheated by the change.

"You are cutting out our overtime on Fridays. It cuts me out with spending three days with my family."

Cynthia Weaver is from Alabama and said an extra day on the job means extra money for gas and more travel.

"I don't see where we are going to get any more work done. People that travel are going to be more tired," Weaver said.

For about six years, Northrop Grumman employees have had a four day, ten hour work schedule. But the company and the unions have had an agreement that the schedule could change with at least a 30 day notice.

"We have always looked at a number of different things that would improve performance in the organization and now is just right time," Human Resources Vice President of Edmond Hughes said.

Hughes said he knew that the time change was not going to be welcomed by all 12,000 of Pascagoula's shipyard workers. But he said the company expects the extra days and short hours will eliminate fatigue on the job and promote a safer working environment.

"It is very important our employees go home the same way they come to work."

Currently, the shipyard is working on nine projects. Hughes said with the new schedule, workers have more time to build quality defense ships for our country.

"The reason for that is to insure we have future work in our organization."

Boosting business sounds good to employees like Pat Knolan and Darryl Williams.

"If this is what the shipyard needs to do to stay competitive with Navy, I am okay with it," Nolan said.

The two admit in this tight economy, they're happy to even have a job.

"Thank God I have a job," Williams said.

The new schedule goes into effect May 31. Company officials said shift times are still being discussed.

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