Unions Strike Down Proposed Northrop Grumman Contract - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Unions Strike Down Proposed Northrop Grumman Contract

   The votes are in, and a strike could be just a few days away for Northrop Grumman workers. Union leaders told WLOX that an "overwhelming" amount of votes have rejected the proposed Northrop Grumman contract, instead demanding higher wages and lower healthcare premiums. While they won't give an exact number, they say at least 90 percent of union workers, have sent the message that the time for change is now.

"If it takes a strike, mark my words, I will strike and stay out as long as I can," electrician Nick Mariakis says.

Mariakis hopes his ballot sends one message to his Northrop Grumman bosses.

"Show us, show us the money!" he exclaimed outside the union hall.

More than 600 electricians seconded that, saying "no" to the proposed 4-year contract. Krystal Epperson is one of those voices. She's an electrician and a mother of three. Between a minimal pay raise and rising cost of health care, she says today's decision was easy.

"I'm gonna have to choose between paying my light bill or taking my sick kid to the doctor. That's gonna be a tough choice," Epperson says.

Epperson says her story isn't all that different from the hundreds of others in her union. They all have food, family, and finances to take care of. That's why they say this contract is so important. 

   The contract would give workers three pay raises one every 16 months. The first pay raise would be $1.40 for the first 16 months and 55 cents for each remaining pay raise cycle. 

But Health care premiums would go from $144 a month to $217 a month in two years. That's why Epperson and her co-workers say they're not backing down, no matter what it takes.

   "Basically I'd be making less money in 4 years than I'm making today. I guess I'm gonna have to get a second job," Epperson says.  

And if they go on strike, what will she do?

"Beg borrow and steal I suppose. I can't afford to go on strike by any means, but I can't afford not to," Epperson says.  

   Northrop Grumman released a statement to WLOX, saying that they are disappointed that the new labor agreements were not ratified by the Union membership. A Federal mediator has requested that the company and unions meet to try and come to an agreement before Sunday morning. If you work at Northrop Grumman, please tune in to WLOX throughout the weekend for updates on this situation.  If an agreement is reached, you could be expected to return to work on Monday.

   By Keli Rabon

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