Deadline Looms For Northrop Grumman, Union Contract Deal

It's a race for time and money in Jackson County, as Northrop Grumman Ship System workers and their union leaders debate the pros and cons of a proposed contract with just six days to go. The company says it's pleased with the proposed agreement, but union members have a different view.

"No good all the way around," electrician Evan Reid says.

"It really is not right, it really sucks. They're not giving us no money, they're raising up our insurance, so really we just stuck. If the insurance goes up, then we really ain't making no money. It's like we're working out here for free," electrician Rodney Middleton says.

Union workers received a green flier Monday with details on the proposed four year contract, which does include a pay raise.

"$1.40 the first year, 55 cents the second year, 55 cents the third year, and the fourth year, nothing," 16-year employee Eric Thompson says.

That translates to a 13 percent increase over four years. But in the next two years, health insurance premiums would go up 40 percent. This electrician says comparing his salary to the cost of benefits is a shocking number.

"We'll only get a raise of 2 cents over the next 4 years. I don't think that's enough to pay for cost of living, gas, and everything else that's going up," one electrician says.

Workers on a 10 hour, 4 day a week schedule will receive 25 additional paid vacation hours --  that's equals an extra two and a half days a year.

Union members say it's time to head back to the negotiating table, or there might be a strike.

"They need to come up with some kind of profit sharing program. That's what everyone has been talking about. I think if they put that on there, we'd probably vote it in. If they put that in there, it would probably make up for all the bad stuff that they put in it," an electrician says.

Northrop Grumman still has a few days to work out the details with union leaders. Otherwise, work at the shipyard could come to a halt.

Northrop Grumman representative Bill Glenn says, "Over the weekend, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems submitted to its Unions in Pascagoula a proposed new Labor Agreement. The Company believes this proposal to be fair, and that it recognizes the tremendous contribution its 6,500-plus Union-Represented employees have made, and will continue to make, to the success of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems."

Sunday, March 4th is the deadline for contract negotiations.